Required Amendments for Qualified Retirement Plans


As benefit plan audit season comes to a close and the end of calendar year 2020 approaches, sponsors of qualified retirement plans should consider whether plan documents need to be amended to comply with timing requirements.  Discretionary plan design changes implemented in 2020 may require a plan amendment.  Participants may also need to receive a Summary of Material Modifications to the extent information in the plan’s Summary Plan Description has changed.

Examples of discretionary plan design adjustments in 2020 requiring a plan amendment include changes in matching or fixed nonelective contribution formulas, vesting, eligibility, automatic enrollment, automatic increases, safe harbor plan status and the elimination or addition of employer contributions.  Discretionary plan changes implemented pursuant to coronavirus-related relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) and subsequent guidance do not require amendments this year.  Accordingly, it is important to review all plan design changes to determine which, if any, were available prior to the CARES Act and require an amendment by December 31, 2020 for calendar year plans.

Although there are no mandatory 2020 amendments related to changes in the law, sponsors should also make note of several amendments required in the future.  These future amendment deadlines to be aware of include qualified retirement plan changes established by the following:

Change in the Law


Hardship Distribution Final Regulations

December 31, 2021

Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act

Last day of the first plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2022 (2024 for governmental plans)


Last day of the first plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2022 (2024 for governmental plans)


Please contact an attorney from Honigman’s Employee Benefits practice group for further information on the required plan amendments discussed herein.

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