Summary Material Modifications

Posted in Human Resource Terms, Total Reads: 818
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Definition: Summary Material Modifications

Under Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), all the participants and beneficiaries are given a Summary Plan Description (SPD) describing their rights, benefits, and responsibilities. Any modification in the information of SPD required provision of Summary material modification document (SMM). It is a simple document describing any relevant changes in SPD. The following modifications in SPD come under SMM:


  • New benefits
  • Removal of old benefit
  • Narrow or expand scenarios when benefits can b availed
  • Plan termination
  • Change in information that can be disclosed
  • New classification of retirees, etc


The SMM should be distributed within 210 days after the end of the plan year in which modification was established, exception being modification in health plans, which need to be delivered within 60 days. It is normally tried that the SMM is distributed as soon as possible and hence the method of distribution is with the intent of actual receipt of it by the concerned persons. Also, it is the responsibility of the administrator of the plan for the delivery.


In general, SMM should contain the following:

  • Details of the employer, plan sponsor, plan administrator and trustees
  • eligibility for participation & plan benefits
  • Plan disqualification criteria
  • circumstances which may result in denial or loss of benefits or ineligibility
  • plan year-end date
  • benefit claim procedures and remedies available for denied claims


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