29 CFR § 2520.102-2 - Style and format of summary plan description.

§ 2520.102-2 Style and format of summary plan description.

(a)Method of presentation. The summary plan description shall be written in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant and shall be sufficiently comprehensive to apprise the plan's participants and beneficiaries of their rights and obligations under the plan. In fulfilling these requirements, the plan administrator shall exercise considered judgment and discretion by taking into account such factors as the level of comprehension and education of typical participants in the plan and the complexity of the terms of the plan. Consideration of these factors will usually require the limitation or elimination of technical jargon and of long, complex sentences, the use of clarifying examples and illustrations, the use of clear cross references and a table of contents.

(b)General format. The format of the summary plan description must not have the effect to misleading, misinforming or failing to inform participants and beneficiaries. Any description of exception, limitations, reductions, and other restrictions of plan benefits shall not be minimized, rendered obscure or otherwise made to appear unimportant. Such exceptions, limitations, reductions, or restrictions of plan benefits shall be described or summarized in a manner not less prominent than the style, captions, printing type, and prominence used to describe or summarize plan benefits. The advantages and disadvantages of the plan shall be presented without either exaggerating the benefits or minimizing the limitations. The description or summary of restrictive plan provisions need not be disclosed in the summary plan description in close conjunction with the description or summary of benefits, provided that adjacent to the benefit description the page on which the restrictions are described is noted.

(c)Foreign languages. In the case of either -

(1) A plan that covers fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of a plan year, and in which 25 percent or more of all plan participants are literate only in the same non-English language, or

(2) A plan which covers 100 or more participants at the beginning of the plan year, and in which the lesser of (i) 500 or more participants, or (ii) 10% or more of all plan participants are literate only in the same non-English language, so that a summary plan description in English would fail to inform these participants adequately of their rights and obligations under the plan, the plan administrator for such plan shall provide these participants with an English-language summary plan description which prominently displays a notice, in the non-English language common to these participants, offering them assistance. The assistance provided need not involve written materials, but shall be given in the non-English language common to these participants and shall be calculated to provide them with a reasonable opportunity to become informed as to their rights and obligations under the plan. The notice offering assistance contained in the summary plan description shall clearly set forth in the non-English language common to such participants offering them assistance. The assistance provided need not involve written materials, but shall be given in the non-English language common to these participants and shall be calculated to provide them with a reasonable opportunity to become informed as to their rights and obligations under the plan. The notice offering assistance contained in the summary plan description shall clearly set forth in the non-English language common to such participants the procedures they must follow in order to obtain such assistance.

Example.
Employer A maintains a pension plan which covers 1000 participants. At the beginning of a plan year five hundred of Employer A's covered employees are literate only in Spanish, 101 are literate only in Vietnamese, and the remaining 399 are literate in English. Each of the 1000 employees receives a summary plan description in English, containing an assistance notice in both Spanish and Vietnamese stating the following:

“This booklet contains a summary in English of your plan rights and benefits under Employer A Pension Plan. If you have difficulty understanding any part of this booklet, contact Mr. John Doe, the plan administrator, at his office in Room 123, 456 Main St., Anywhere City, State 20001. Office hours are from 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday. You may also call the plan administrator's office at (202) 555-2345 for assistance.”

[42 FR 37180, July 19, 1977]