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EP Examination Process Guide - Section 9 - Participant Rights - Participant Events - When a Participant Stops Working

When a participant stops working, the participant should receive information regarding benefits. This information will vary depending on the type of retirement plan, the reason the participant has ceased working (retired or quit), and the participant’s age.

Description: If the participant has retired or quit working, they should receive documents that describe their benefits and the procedures necessary to obtain them.

What It Should Contain: The documents provided to participants who are no longer working should contain sufficient information for the participant to understand their benefits and how to apply for them. The documents might contain information:

  • describing the benefits that are available;
  • identifying when benefits may be or will be paid; and
  • listing the steps that must be taken to receive the benefits (including when and how a participant should apply).

In some cases, a participant may be required to take a benefit even if they have not applied (such as when the participant attains age 70 ½ or if the participant’s account balance is below a certain dollar amount).

Additional information on the benefits that are provided at retirement may be found in the plan’s summary plan description. For additional information on summary plan descriptions, refer to the Department of Labor - Employee Benefits Security Administration publication - What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan.

Timing: A participant may receive information describing retirement or termination benefits at any time. Also, see the sections on qualified survivor benefits, eligible rollover distributions, and annual benefit statements.

Who Is Responsible For Sending It: The administrator of the plan.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 30-Sep-2013