ERISA requires any employee benefit plan be in writing. The plan documents literally are any documents or instruments under which the plan is established or maintained. Typically, there will be a master plan or trust document. The plan administrator also is required to distribute a summary plan description, which is a summary of the plan document commonly spanning 20–80 pages. The summary plan description must contain all the material terms of the plan, including the formal name of the plan, the name of the administrator(s), how to submit claims, and any procedure regarding internal appeals.
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