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Plan Filings


Form 5500

An Annual Report which summarizes the operations of your plan which must be filed with the Employee Benefit Security Administration (“EBSA”) annually.

Who must file?

A pension plan or a welfare benefit plan (i.e., medical or life insurance) must file an annual report each year unless they meet certain exceptions. These exceptions include, but are not limited to:

Pension Plans

Welfare Benefit Plans

Church Pension Benefit Plans

Covers fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year

Unfunded SERP

Governmental Plan

Individual Retirement Account (IRA)


Governmental Plan

Church Plan

When is the filing due?

The Form 5500 is due 7 months after the end of the plan year. An extension is available for an additional 2.5 months if requested.

How is it filed?

The Form 5500 is filed electronically with the EBSA. This is done via the EFAST 2 system or through one of many third party providers. You will need to have a filing ID and PIN to submit a filing as a plan administrator or plan sponsor.

Annual Funding Notice

The Employee Benefit Security Administration (“EBSA”) requires that a defined benefit pension plan provide an annual funding notice (“AFN”) to plan participants and beneficiaries.

What does the Notice Include?

Funding Percentage – Annual notices must include the plan’s funding target attainment percentage. The funding percentage of a plan is a measure of how well the plan is funded on a particular date. In general, the higher the percentage, the better funded the plan. The funding percentage must be reported for the past three plan years.

Assets and Liabilities – Annual notices must include information regarding the plan’s assets and liabilities. For example, notices must include a statement of the value of the plan’s assets and liabilities on the same date used to determine the plan’s funding percentage. Notices also must include a description of how the plan’s assets are invested as of the last day of the plan year and a statement of the plan’s funding policy.

PBGC Guarantees and other Title IV Information – Annual notices must include a general description of the benefits under the plan that are eligible to be guaranteed by the PBGC, along with an explanation of the limitations on the guarantee and the circumstances under which such limitations apply.

When is it due?

Funding notices generally must be furnished no later than 120 days after the close of the plan year. Plans with 100 or fewer participants may furnish funding notices no later than the filing of the plan’s annual report, including filing extensions.

Summary Annual Report


A summary annual report (“SAR”) is an annual statement in narrative form that summarizes the latest annual report (Form 5500) for the plan.

Who Must Distribute the SAR?

Benefit plans subject to ERISA are required to distribute SARs. If a plan is not required to file a Form 5500, then a SAR is not required. Under the Department of Labor’s (DOL) SAR regulations, a totally unfunded welfare plan, regardless of size, need not provide SARs (even though large, unfunded welfare must file a Form 5500). In contrast, large insured plans are subject to the SAR requirement.

When the SAR Must Be Distributed?

Plans must generally distribute SARs to plan participants by the last day of the ninth month following the end of the plan year. Plans that have an extension of time to file the Form 5500 must provide the SAR within two months after the extension ends.

How the SAR Should Be Distributed?

The DOL regulations say the plan administrator must use “measures reasonably calculated to ensure actual receipt of the material.” Thus, SARs may be distributed by any method permissible for summary plan descriptions (“SPD”), including electronically.

The DOL issued proposed rules that establish a safe harbor for plans that file SARs using electronic media. A plan will fall within the safe harbor rule if the plan administrator sends an electronic copy of the SAR to a participant who has the ability to effectively access the document at the worksite, and has the opportunity at work to convert the electronic document into a paper document without cost, and:

  • The plan administrator takes appropriate steps to ensure the participant actually receives the document (such as by use of a return-receipt electronic mail feature)
  • The electronic document meets the style, format and content requirements of the DOL’s electronic disclosure regulations
  • Each participant receives a notice, by electronic means or in writing, telling the participant what document will be sent electronically, the significance of the document and the participant’s right to receive a free paper copy of the document
  • Upon participant request, a paper copy of the document is furnished to the participant

Qualified Retirement Audit Requirements

Do I Need An Audit?