No disrespect intended to the attorneys for beginning this post with a cartoon from the creative mind of Terry Hart, a/k/a, Hartboy. Rather, it’s intended as an excellent visual metaphor for my takeaway from the recent article written by our friend (and attorney) Andy Williams on his Benefits Law Group of Chicago website.
Andy writes What a Difference a "P" Makes: Hairsplitting Decision Denies Disability Claim. You can delve the details about the outcome of an ERISA case hinged on the difference (not a distinction) between whether a plan provision applied to a "Period of Disability" rather than just "periods of Disability."
But here’s the takeaway to which I referred above which is very relevant as the EGTRRA restatement deadline is just a few short months away for most retirement plans. (See our EGTRRA Restatement Series).
It’s simply that a retirement plan doesn’t just include Internal Revenue Code qualification requirements for favorable tax treatment. The plan document also defines the rights and obligations of the plan sponsor, participants, and beneficiaries. And that if the application of a particular plan provision “depends”, then maybe, just maybe plan sponsors should invest the time and expense of retaining an experienced attorney to review the matter.
Now about those Summary Plan Descriptions ….