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Form 5500

The Form 5500 filing requirement applies to ERISA governed plans.

The Form 5500 series is used to collect financial, actuarial and operational details on employee benefit plans subject to ERISA. Information such as insurance contracts, brokerage details, plan size and participation, and how the plan is funded are required fields on the various schedules of the form series.


Calendar year plans must file their 5500 annually, prior to July 31. Non-calendar year plans, must file their 5500 prior to the last day of the seventh calendar month following the end of their plan year. All 5500 filings must be filed electronically through the Department of Labor’s EFAST2 electronic system. All forms can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor Form 5500 Series website. Filing extensions are available using Form 5558.


Impact on Small Plans

Certain small plans can file a simplified version of Form 5500, Form 5500-SF. This short-form version is available to single employer plans with fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of a given plan year.


*NEW* Proposed Rules

The most significant change within the proposed regulations, if adopted, would require ERISA group health plans that are fully insured and have fewer than 100 participants to comply with the 5500 reporting requirements. Self-funded health plans with fewer than 100 participants will remain exempt.


The other noteworthy change is the addition of Schedule J which is proposed for all group health plans. This is meant to allow the government to identify health plans that show signs of failure to pay outstanding claims. Further investigations and inquiries will be made of any health plan when critical flags are raised.


These proposed updates are meant to provide further transparency for participants and data may be used in future updated guidance to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).


Assistance We Can Offer

Meritain assists our clients with filing Form 5500 by providing various reports and other information to ensure clients have all data they need to complete the 5500 series accurately.


SAR Reporting

An ERISA plan administrator is required to provide covered participants and certain beneficiaries with an annual statement summarizing their Form 5500. The summary is known as the summary annual report (SAR).


Who Must Comply With SAR Reporting?

SARs are required each year for pension plans, including 401(k) plans, and for welfare plans unless an exemption applies. For example:


  • Self-insured funded plans (even if only partially funded)
  • 401k plans

Plans which are not required to furnish SARs:


  • Unfunded self-insured welfare plans;
  • Non-ERISA Cafeteria Plans
  • Health FSA (are treated as unfunded welfare plans)

When Must A SAR Be Provided?

The SAR must be provided within nine months of the close of the plan year. If an extension of time to file the Form 5500 is obtained, the plan administrator must furnish the SAR within two months following the end of the extension.


What Must Be Included In The SAR?

The SAR requires the following information:


Funding and Insurance Information

The type of claims that the plan pays as well as total premiums paid for the plan year.

Financial Information

The value of the plan assets as of the beginning and end of the plan year, any increase/decrease in net assets, and plan income and expenses.

Rights to Additional Information

A statement that individuals have a right to request a copy of the full annual report and how to obtain it.


What Does Meritain Do?

Meritain does not provide assistance in preparation of the SAR report at this time.



It is imperative that ERISA-governed plans comply with the Form 5500 reporting in a timely manner. Civil penalties can amount to $2,093 per day for non-compliant plan sponsors.


This content is being provided as an informational tool. It is believed to be accurate at the time of posting and is subject to change. It is recommended that plans consult with their own experts or counsel to review all applicable federal and state legal requirements that may apply to their group health plan. By providing this information, Meritain Health is not exercising discretionary authority or assuming a plan fiduciary role, nor is Meritain Health providing legal advice.