Welcome to the ERISA Help Center where you can find answers to frequently-asked questions and good information to know about your plan.
We’re here to help your company’s retirement plan run like a well-oiled machine.
The resource center contains most of the info you need to know about your plan and how our platform works. Always feel free to contact us if you have questions that you couldn’t find answers to here.
The documentation here is intended to be general guidance and may not be specific to your plan.
Setting up your plan involves establishing the plan’s custodial account, setting up employees on our platform, establishing your plan’s operational procedures, and onboarding employees. We help with all these aspects to make the process as easy as possible.
2. Plan Procedures
Most of your plan’s procedures are detailed in your plan document, which establishes the rules for your plan. It’s important that your company’s HR department and other representatives involved with the plan understand these rules. Some examples include: when employees become eligible, what types of contributions are allowed, what types of withdrawals are allowed. Having familiarity with these aspects of your plan can help minimize confusion and helps keep communication consistent. As part of the plan setup process, we work with an authorized representative for your company to decide these details. Once the details are finalized, we draft the plan documents, which are signed into effect. Next, we’ll get your plan up and running.
3. Getting Your Plan Started
Regardless of whether your plan is just starting up or converting from another provider, we will need some basic employee census data to load your employees onto our platform for account setup. We’ll provide you with a data template that you can fill out and return back to us. This typically includes things like Social Security Numbers, Names, Birth Dates, Hire Dates, Address Information, etc.
Once the employees are loaded, we will work with your team to establish a plan enrollment timeline and invite your employees to log into their accounts with us and setup their accounts.
If you’re plan is coming to us from another provider, we’ll work with you to determine whether it’s best to simply keep all employee contribution settings the same or if it makes sense to have them re-enroll. We also help provide employee communication of key dates and events that happen along the way during your conversion process.
Once the employees are enrolled, we’ll work with your payroll department to set up the employees’ contribution rates in your payroll system and contributions will begin flowing to the plan at that time.
That’s it – your plan is now live!
4. Ongoing Maintenance
Over time, employees may update their contribution rates or decide to take a loan from the plan. We’ll notify you of any of these events so that you know what’s required on your part as the employer.
Contribution changes need to be updated in your payroll system. If you’re using one of our integrated payroll partners, this function is automatically done for you. If not, then it requires manual updating in the payroll system by your payroll department.
Loans require employer approval and payroll setup. Employees first request a loan in their online account with us and we send you the loan application electronically for e-signature approval. Once you approve the loan, we take care of the rest and issuing payment. Lastly, loan repayment deductions need to be setup on payroll as an after-tax deduction from the employee’s pay and included in the payroll data that’s sent to us each pay period for retirement plan processing.
Eligibility & Enrollment
How do I know if an employee is eligible for the plan or not?
Your Plan Document, Summary Plan Description, and Plan Highlights page will state the eligibility requirements and entry periods. Please refer to any of those three documents to learn the specific rules for your plan. Eligibility requirements normally include a statutory minimum age and a minimum service requirement. If an employee has satisfied the eligibility requirements, then he or she is most likely eligible – unless there is specific language in your Plan Document that excludes that employee, based on an IRS-allowable exclusion.
*Common Mistake – Part-time employees are not excluded from the plan simply because they are part-time. Part-time employees will become eligible for the Plan if they satisfy the eligibility requirements and they are not excluded by some other exclusion in the plan document.
How does enrollment work?
Enrollment into the plan is when the employee elects a contribution % or dollar amount that they will have deducted from their pay check each payroll cycle so that it may deposited into the plan. In some cases, employees can elect to make contributions on pre-tax or a Roth (after-tax) basis. The type of tax treatment they choose is important for properly setting up the deduction type in your payroll system. Employees also use enrollment as a time to make their investment selections, designate beneficiaries for their account, and set preferences for account communications.
Employees can enroll in the plan in a variety of ways. Traditionally, enrollment information was written on paper forms and turned into the company’s HR department. We still offer paper forms today, but online enrollment is now the preferred method because of the retirement guidance that employees receive during the online enrollment process.
If your employees enroll via paper form, you will want to keep a copy on file for your records and you will also need to submit a copy to ERISA so that we can enter the information in our system.
If your employees enroll online, you will be notified by a member of our service team of any payroll deductions that need to be set up or changed in your payroll system.
What if I miss an enrollment cycle for my employees?
Giving your employees the opportunity to save in the plan is a protected right. So if you fail to enroll an employee when they should have had the opportunity, it can lead to corrective funding that the employer must pay into the employee’s retirement account to make up for the missed opportunity.
But not to worry – staying on top of enrollment is something we can help with as long as we’re receiving complete payroll data for all of your employees each payroll cycle. Our system is set up to automatically calculate eligibility dates and notify you when an employee is becoming eligible so you don’t miss a beat.
What disclosures does an employee have to receive before participation?
Employees must be given a copy of the Summary Plan Description, a copy of the Annual Notice, and a fee disclosure (404a-5) with their enrollment materials to meet government guidelines. All of these documents are available in an employee’s online account with us, so online enrollment has you covered. However, if you have employees that don’t have access to our site or if you prefer to enroll employees via paper, you will need to make sure to furnish copies of these documents as well. These can be accessed in the Report Center of your plan sponsor account.
How do my employees change their contributions?
Much like initial enrollment, employees have the option of changing their contribution rate either in their online account or on a paper form. Keep in mind that paper forms will require you to maintain a copy for your records. Paper forms are available for download in your plan sponsor account and should be returned to firstname.lastname@example.org or uploaded to our Secure File Upload.
If your employees update their contribution rates online, you will be notified via email by our service team as a reminder to update your payroll system. Payroll setup is automatically taken care of for you if you’re using one of our integrated payroll partners.
When you receive the email, you will want to update your payroll system to reflect the employee’s contribution rate change request.
How do my employees change their investment elections?
Employees can change their investments in their online account or on a paper form that’s available in your plan sponsor account. Paper forms should be submitted to email@example.com or uploaded to us using our Secure File Upload.
Can my employees take a loan?
It depends on your plan document. Check your Summary Plan Description or Plan Highlights page to see whether your plan allows for loans or not.
How do I know how much is available for a loan?
You can view the amount you have available for a loan by logging into your online account, clicking the Loans menu option – located under the Loans & Withdrawals menu section.
Once you’re on the loan page, click the Model/Request a Loan button and you will see your loan available amount on the right side of the next page in the grey “Loan Information box.
How the loan request process works.
Employees should initiate loan requests through their online account or via the paper form that’s available through your plan sponsor’s online account.
- Log into your online account
- Click the Loans menu option located under Loans & Withdrawals
- Click the Model/Request a Loan button
- Select your loan specifications and click Calculate Payment
- Click the Request Loan button and follow the rest of the prompts
- One the last page, your loan paperwork will be generated for you to download and print.
- Print the documents and then click Submit
- Sign the promissory note and return your completed paperwork to either your employer or directly to ERISA through our secure file upload
- Once the docuements are signed, your loan will be issued and loan repayments will be setup in your company’s payroll system to automatically deduct loan repayments each payroll cycle.
How do I pay off my loan?
You can pay off your loan by sending in a check for the payoff amount (remaining principal + accrued interest) to the plan’s custodial account at Charles Schwab Bank. Once the check has arrived, we will process your loan payoff and you will see the update reflected in your online account.
Please contact support for specific instructions for your check and the amount.