By checking your eligibility requirements in your adoption agreement, and the definition of entry date. This is all found in section 3 of the adoption agreement. If your firm elected the one year of eligibility criteria, this also requires that the employee work 1,000 hours of service in that first year of employment.

See the link for Program Enroll in the upper right area of the Enrollment Package or on the homepage of our website. Employees enroll themselves in your plan.

Notify the Program of their employment status change by submitting a Participant Data Change Form.

Important Plan Documents

This section contains information about the documents that you will need to refer to when working with the Plan, including:

Basic Plan Document No. 03

The Basic Plan Document, called the “American Bar Association Members Retirement Plan,” describes all of the plan’s provisions. As Plan Administrator, you should use the plan document as the main source for information about the plan. However, some provisions in the plan document may not apply to your plan. You can tell which provisions apply to your plan by checking your plan’s adoption agreement (see below).

Decisions about benefits should always be made based on the plan document since it contains the actual plan provisions. The document covers the following topics in detail:

  • Plan definitions
  • Plan participation/eligibility
  • Employer and employee contributions and limits
  • Investment of contributions
  • Payment of benefits to participants and beneficiaries through loans, withdrawals and distributions
  • Vesting and forfeitures
  • Delegation of powers
  • Direct rollovers

The plan document may be amended from time to time as required by changes in the laws that govern retirement plans. If the plan document is amended, the Program will send you a copy of the amendment. The Program will also send a summary of material modifications (SMM) to your summary plan description (SPD). See “Participant Communications” under Compliance & Communications for more information on the SPD.

Adoption Agreement

When your firm adopted a plan offered through the Program, an adoption agreement was completed. The agreement specifies which provisions of the plan document apply to your firm’s plan. Your firm also tailored specific elements of the plan such as eligibility, the vesting schedule and employer contributions. As Plan Administrator, you will need to refer to your firm’s adoption agreement to check/verify information that may be specific to your firm’s plan.

Your firm may have adopted one or more adoption agreements, depending on how many Program plans your firm has.

Your firm’s adoption agreement may be amended from time to time by your firm, as organizational and employee needs change.

Annual Disclosure Document

The Annual Disclosure Document describes the investment structure of the Program: the investment options, fees and administrative procedures. As Plan Administrator, you will need to reference the Annual Disclosure Document (or refer plan participants to the Annual Disclosure Document) to answer participant questions about the investment options. The Annual Disclosure Document is also emailed once a year to all Plan Administrators, and is always available online. Participants receive a shorter version, or Summary of Disclosure Document.  Participants should use the Disclosure Documents to help them make their investment election decisions.

The Annual Disclosure Document includes:

  • A list of the available funds and their specific investment objectives – for example, a description of the risk and return ratio for each fund and an explanation of the volatility of the returns.
  • A description of the fees and deductions. Disclosure of income, expenses and capital charges for each fund for the prior year.
  • A list of investment advisors for each fund.
  • Information about Program contributions, investment elections and transfers.
  • A summary description of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as amended, and fiduciary obligations.

Enrollment Kit

Upon request, the Program provides you with enrollment kits that contain all of the information a participant needs to enroll in the plan. Participants need to receive enrollment kits within 30 days before their eligibility date (or, if your plan allows for immediate eligibility, upon a participant’s eligibility date) so they can make timely decisions about their investment options and/or participation. Participants can also request an enrollment kit through the Customer Service Center. In the interest of “going green,” the enrollment kit is made available at The participant may review the kit online and print out the enrollment and beneficiary forms.

Summary Plan Description

The summary plan description (SPD) provides a brief description of the plan in language plan participants can understand. It explains basic plan information and participants’ rights and responsibilities as they relate to your firm’s plan.

If information in your SPD changes, you may receive a summary of material modifications (SMM). The SMM updates information in your SPD.

Summary of Material Modifications (if applicable)

The summary of material modifications (SMM) describes any material changes to the information in the SPD. The SMM becomes a part of the SPD and should be distributed to all participants and beneficiaries under the plan.

Summary Annual Report

A summary annual report (SAR) is a report on the financial status of the plan. You will receive the SAR at the end of each plan year along with your Form 5500. The SAR must then be provided to your participants.

IRS Opinion Letter

The Program will provide you with an IRS opinion letter for the form of prototype you sponsor. This is the approval letter issued by the IRS for the master plan, and not for your individual plan. You can receive a determination letter for your plan after requesting one from the IRS, if you are unable to rely on the IRS opinion letter issued to the American Bar Association Members Retirement Plan. The Program can provide you with the means to apply for a determination letter if you wish to do so.

Administrative Forms

Administrative forms are used by participants to request changes or transactions in the plan. Not all of the forms may apply to your plan.

Forms are available through the Resources section of the Program website and by calling the Plan Administrator Line.  Please see “Forms” for detailed information on Program forms.

Plan Administrator’s Bulletin

You will receive the Plan Administrator’s Bulletin via email four times per year. The Bulletin describes information that may affect your plan, such as legislative changes.  You can access it at anytime at

Program Insights and Other Materials

The participant blog is updated quarterly and is available at

Receiving and storing plan documents

The Program will automatically send you the plan document, completed adoption agreement, administrative forms, Program Disclosure Document, SPD and IRS opinion letter (on the type of prototype plan you sponsor) along with any amendments to each item. You will receive the Program Disclosure Document once a year. The Perspectives newsletter and Plan Administrator’s Bulletin are sent on a quarterly basis. The other items will be sent on an as-needed basis (after you receive the initial set).

For easy access and storage, we suggest keeping your important plan documents in your Retirement Plan Library to ensure that these documents are kept together and can easily be found when needed. Another member of your firm should know the location of these documents and have access to them in the event of an emergency.

If you are missing any of these important documents, please call the Plan Administrator Line at 800.752.6313 to request copies.