What is ERISA Form 5500?

The Form 5500 Series is important compliance, research, and disclosure tool for the Department of Labor, a disclosure document for plan participants and beneficiaries, and a source of information and data for use by other Federal agencies, Congress, and the private sector in assessing employee benefit, tax, and economic trends and policies.

The Form 5500 Series is part of ERISA’s overall reporting and disclosure framework, which is intended to assure that employee benefit plans are operated and managed in accordance with certain prescribed standards and that participants and beneficiaries, as well as regulators, are provided or have access to sufficient information to protect the rights and benefits of participants and beneficiaries under employee benefit plans.

B3PA - Form 5500 Service

Let Us Do the Work for You!

By hiring B3PA as your Form 5500 preparation vendor, you will receive the correct guidance and suggested actions by seasoned industry experts.

  • You have an assigned contact you work with directly.
  • We help gather all needed information
  • Complete the 5500 forms on your behalf
  • Coordinate with the employer directly
  • Submit completed 5500 via EFAST
  • Complete SAR, if needed.

5500 Form Facts

Who Has to File the Form 5500?

Compliance with ERISA is not optional; it is the law. Employers will avoid costly fines by following the requirements described in this SPD Requirements article.

ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) governs both welfare benefits and retirement plans. This article focuses on the ERISA Summary Plan Description (SPD) and 5500 reporting requirements. Which is about welfare benefit plans to ensure your business is compliant.

A welfare benefit plan includes any of the following group benefits: health, life, dental, vision, disability insurance plans, flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health reimbursement accounts (HRAs), employee assistance plans (EAPs), and other fringe benefit plans where the employer contributes to the cost.

With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, ERISA SPD requirements are receiving new attention and enforcement. Employers are required to provide an SPD for each plan. Subsequently, they can use an SPD wrap document to include all welfare benefit plans.


A common misperception is who is responsible for preparing, filing, and delivering SPDs and Form 5500s. Most employers believe their insurance carrier, accountant, or broker is handling this. However, the employer is solely responsible for ERISA compliance.

Who Must Comply with ERISA?

ERISA requirements apply to virtually all organizations. Except for governmental entities and churches. Regardless of the number of employees or how many employees participate.

  • Plans with 100 or more participants at the beginning of a plan year are generally required to file Form 5500 and should do so following the requirements for a large plan.
  • Plans with fewer than 100 participants at the beginning of the plan year that do not meet all of the additional eligibility requirements for Form 5500-SF must also file Form 5500 and should do so as a small plan. Small plans have fewer reporting requirements.

When is the 5500 Form Due?

The due date is the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends (July 31 for a calendar year plan).

How do I file Form 5500?

Employers must file electronically through EFAST2.

What Plans Require Filing?

Profit-sharing plans

Stock bonus plans
Money purchase plans 
Certain annuity arrangements and custodial accounts

Welfare benefit plans

Medical plans
Dental plans
Life insurance plans
Scholarship plans
Severance pay plans
Disability plans
Multiple-employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs)

What is the the Form 5558?

Form 5558 is Titled “Application of Extension of Time to File Certain Employee Plan Returns,” it is a request for an automatic extension of time to file Form 5500.

Need to know:
The maximum extension is 2 1/2 months.
Form 5558 is filed in paper form by the Plan Administrator with the IRS; however, no signature is required.
It must be filed before the original deadline for filing Form 5500.

How do i correct the 5500?

If you are looking to correct its failure to file Form 5500, you may submit the filings under the DOL’s amnesty program, the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance (DFVC) Program. This allows a penalty of $10 per day for each day the filing is late, up to $2,000 per plan per year (or a maximum of $4,000 per plan per filing submission). Note that the DFVC Program is only available to plan administrators who have not been identified by the DOL.

What are the penalties if I don't file a form 5500?

The DOL may assess a civil penalty of up to $1,100 per day starting from the date of the failure or refusal to file Form 5500, which is cumulative, and there is no statute of limitation concerning Form 5500 filing failures. The DOL maintains a Late Filer Enforcement Program for Forms filed after their due date. Under this program, if identified by the DOL, the plan administrator may be assessed a penalty of only $50 per day for each Form 5500 filed after the due date. The DOL also administers the Non-Filer Enforcement Program penalizes non-filers $300 per day to a max of $30,000 per year for each plan year filing.

Find the 5500 Extensions Request on Form 5558

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