Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) are a critical source of information about an employer’s benefit plans.

Yet a study by EBRI, the Employee Benefit Research Institute, found that important information contained in many SPDs is written at a reading level that may be too difficult for the average plan participant. In fact, the average level of readability for SPDs is higher than the recommended reading level for technical material. More recently, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) reviewed 10 model notices from the agencies (often used by employers in SPDs) against federal plain language guidelines and found that several of the model notices failed to meet those guidelines.

Key Benefits to Working with DirectPath:

  • A compliance communications team with a combined 105 years experience of communicating clearly and accurately about employee benefits, along with deep knowledge of plan provisions and current regulatory requirements.
  • Analysis of content for average sentence length, reading ease, passive vs. active voice, average grade level, organization and content flow.
  • Reporting that provides detailed information on how client documents compare to best practices, the current grade level and readability scores for their documents and specific recommendations for improvement, including “quick hits”—the small changes that can make a big impact.
  • Help in implementing those recommendations, if the client doesn’t have the bandwidth.

Related Reading: DirectPath Calls on the ERISA Advisory Council to Address Electronic Distribution of Employee Benefit Plan Documents and Materials in 2017

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