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FAQs About SPD

 For Administrators

Why do we need an SPD?

ERISA legally obligates the plan administrators to provide important facts regarding their retirement and health benefit plans. All participants are entitled to automatically receive an SPD, free of charge.

If a plan is changed, participants must be informed either through a revised summary plan description or in a separate document. This is called a summary of material modifications, which must also be given to participants free of charge.

The SPD tells participants:
  • What the plan provides and how it operates
  • Information on when an employee can begin to participate in the plan
  • How service and benefits are calculated
  • When benefits becomes vested
  • When and in what form benefits are paid, and how to file a claim for benefits

For more information please visit the Department of Labor's page on this topic. 

Do I need to distribute my SPDs if I have already done so?

No, it is not required for you to reprocess them. However, you may wish to complete the flow in order to store a digital copy in your documents section.

If you choose to distribute SPD's  through Zenefits, you will be prompt to download or distribute your completed SPD once the flow is finished. An email won't be sent to employees, however, they will see a pending item in the notifications center (displayed as red dot on the bell on the top-right corner of their dashboard) stating that their SPD is available in the Documents section of their account.


What do I do if I receive a merge error message?

Most error messages come from the file name being too long, or the file being password protected. We have included some troubleshooting tips below.

Use Chrome to open the  PDF file, then right click on file content, choose Print, then save as PDF. The new file should work with no error message. 

If you continue to receive an error message, please reach out to our support team through our Contact Us page for further assistance.

Why do I need to file a plan name with the Department of Labor?

If on the first day of the group's ERISA plan year (renewal), the company had 100 or more participants enrolled in coverage, then they will need to file a Form 5500 for their Health and Welfare Benefit plan. A group health plan with fewer than 100 employees that is either fully-insured or self-funded (or a combination of both) is generally not required to file Form 5500.

Zenefits does not file the plan with the Department of Labor, however, this can be done online.

For more information regarding filing the ERISA Form 5500, please see this Help Center article or visit this Department of Labor page.

Troubleshooting policy booklet upload


If you are unable to upload the policy booklets to the SPD tool in Zenefits:

  • Verify that the document is not password protected
  • Verify that you have saved the file under a different name (sometimes, file names are too long and this creates an issue when attempting to upload)

Most error messages come from the above issues. Take the following steps to fix either of these errors.

  • Use Chrome to open the PDF file, then right click on file content, choose Print, then save as  PDF. The new file should work with no error message. 
How to create an SPD

1. Company administrators will receive an inbox task to complete their Summary Plan Description, or SPD, about 45 days after their renewal.

  • Alternatively, admins can access the SPD by clicking into the Benefits Adminstration card, clicking the Company tab, and selecting the Summary Plan Description option from the menu bar

2. Clicking Get Started will take you into the overview of the SPD process.

3. Clicking Generate an SPD will take you to the first part of the SPD creation process. All you need to do on this page is confirm that all of the information is correct. Please also note that the contact information for your insurance carriers is provided as you may need this later on.

4. Clicking Confirm will take you to the next step, where you will need to enter some information about the plans offered by your company. 

  • You will be asked to determine if you have filed a plan name with the Department of Labor. If Yes is selected, you will then be prompted for more information about this filing. Hovering over this question will bring up more information about how you can determine if you filed a plan name on the right side of the screen. Please see this Department of Labor page on Plan Information for details.
  • If your plans run on a calendar year (renewal date is 1/1), that would be considered Calendar Year. If your plans do not run on a calendar year (renewal date is anything other than 1/1), that is considered Plan Year. If your plans have different renewal dates, you can follow the renewal date that is earliest in the year (for example, if your medical renews 3/1 and your dental renews 9/1, use 3/1 as the beginning of your plan year)
  • Select whether or not your company offers an FSA or HSA
  • Fill out the plan administrator information. Zenefits is not your plan administrator. This should be the person at your company who is responsible for making benefits decisions, typically the HR contact.
  • The Agent for Service of Legal Process will be the person or company designated to accept service of process on behalf of the company. This is often the CEO or other high ranking executive. Zenefits is not your Agent for Service of Legal Process.

5. On this step, you'll see a draft of the first part of the SPD. Confirm that what you see is correct and click Next.

  • If you realize you have missed information, or need to edit, there is the option to go Back.

6. The final step of the SPD process is to upload policy booklets from your insurance carriers. You will use the blue Upload link to add the booklets to your SPD.

  • Insurance carriers should proactively be providing these documents to administrators after renewal. If you haven't received your booklets, then please use the contact information to contact them and request these.
  • Sometimes insurance carriers can refer to these policy booklets as Certificates of CoverageEvidence of Coverage, or Benefits Booklets/Handbooks.
  • Please use some of the other Help Center pages (linked to the right side of the page) to help troubleshoot the policy book upload process.

7. Clicking Next will take you to a page where you can view and download the completed SPD.

  • Clicking the Send to Employees button will automatically upload the SPD to their profile and notify them via inbox task. This will not send them an email!
  • If you need to modify or add something in the SPD, please download so you can make these changes. You will not be able to upload this modified SPD back into the SPD section. Instead, you can use custom fields to upload to employees' profiles.


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