HR Glossary
Summary plan description (SPD)

Summary plan description (SPD)

Updated on:
August 22, 2022


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Table of Content

What is Summary plan description (SPD)?

A summary plan description (SPD) is a document that employers must give free to employees who participate in Employee Retirement Income Security Act-covered retirement plans or health benefit plans.

The SPD is a detailed guide to the benefits the program offers and how the plan works.

The summary plan description (SPD) is the document that an employer must issue to employees describing the financial benefits if any, that the employer will provide.

What is the difference between a plan document and a summary plan description?

A Plan Document: A plan document is the actual plan document used by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to describe how a PBGC insured defined benefit plan should be terminated and which of the plan's participants and beneficiaries should receive benefits after termination.

A Summary Plan Description (SPD): An SPD is a document provided to plan participants that briefly describes key features and provisions of a plan. SPDs are generally required to be provided to participants at or before the beginning of the plan year.

A participant should have a complete copy of the plan document and SPD.

The SPD must be provided to new hires, current employees, and any member who requests a copy.

The SPD is designed to provide employees with information about their company’s SPDs are necessary because they provide a detailed description of the employee benefits plan.

This description helps employees understand their benefits and make informed decisions about their coverage.

SPDs also help employers comply with the law by ensuring that employees are aware of their rights and responsibilities under the plan.