ERISA Compliance

As an FH Insurance client, we’ll help you with ERISA filings, plan design compliance, and keep you apprised of any changes and deadlines.

How can Your FH Insurance Total Benefits Team help?

Our ERISA Compliance Checklist

Plan sponsors of employee benefit plans (employers with more than 100 participants on the plan) are required to file an annual return/report (Form 5500) with the U.S. Department of Labor, which provides information about the financial status and operation of the plan. For calendar year plans, the due date for filing the Form 5500 is July 31st of the year following the plan year, with a 2 1/2 month extension available if requested by the due date.

All private sector employers that sponsor employee benefit plans are required to comply with ERISA, regardless of the size of the company. This includes corporations, partnerships, unincorporated associations, and other types of organizations. It’s important to note that ERISA does not cover benefit plans established or maintained by government entities, churches for their employees, or plans which are maintained solely to comply with applicable workers’ compensation, unemployment, or disability insurance laws.

To be compliant with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), a company must follow certain guidelines and regulations regarding its employee benefit plans, such as pension plans, 401(k) plans, and health insurance plans. 

The following steps can help a company become ERISA compliant:

  • Establish written plan documents

    Create and adopt formal, written plan documents that describe the company's employee benefit plans, including 401(k) plans, pension plans, and health plans.

  • Fund the plans

    Ensure that the company's benefit plans are properly funded and that contributions are made in accordance with plan provisions.

  • Follow plan provisions

    Follow the provisions of the plan documents, including participant eligibility, vesting, and benefit accrual rules.

  • Provide required disclosures

    Provide plan participants with required disclosures, such as summary plan descriptions, benefit statements, and other materials.

  • Select and monitor service providers

    Choose and monitor service providers, such as plan administrators, investment managers, and recordkeepers, to ensure they are providing the necessary services in a manner that complies with ERISA.

  • Fiduciary responsibilities

    Establish and maintain procedures to ensure that individuals serving as fiduciaries of the company's benefit plans comply with their fiduciary duties and responsibilities under ERISA.

  • Conduct annual audits

    Conduct annual audits of the company's benefit plans to ensure compliance with ERISA and plan provisions.

  • Report and disclose

    File annual reports with the Department of Labor and provide other required disclosures to plan participants and beneficiaries.

  • Employee education

    Provide education and information to employees about their benefits and their rights under ERISA.

Helpful ERISA Definitions

A process used to ensure that employee benefit plans do not unfairly favor highly compensated employees over other employees.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 is a federal law that sets minimum standards for employee benefit plans offered by private employers, such as pension, health, and welfare plans, offered by private sector employers.


ERISA sets minimum standards for the administration of these plans and requires that plan sponsors provide participants with certain information, such as details about the plan’s features, funding, and operation, and establish a grievance and appeals process. Additionally, ERISA imposes fiduciary duties on those who manage plan assets.


An individual or entity that has discretionary authority or control over the management or administration of a plan or its assets, or provides investment advice to the plan.

An annual report filed with the Department of Labor that provides detailed information about the plan’s operations, including financial and participant data

An employee or former employee who is eligible to participate in the plan.

The person or entity responsible for the day-to-day operations of the plan, including distribution of plan materials and processing of claims.

The written agreement that establishes the terms and conditions of the plan, including eligibility requirements, contribution levels, and benefits.

The entity that establishes and maintains an employee benefit plan subject to ERISA, usually the employer.

The 12-month period designated in the plan document for determining plan contributions, benefits, and compliance with ERISA reporting and disclosure requirements.

The amount of time a participant must work for the employer before becoming entitled to the full value of their accrued benefit.

A document that explains changes to the plan or its benefits, and is distributed to plan participants within a certain timeframe.

A document that provides a comprehensive summary of the plan’s features, including the benefits offered, eligibility criteria, and claim procedures.

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