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How to decode a Summary Plan Description

The key document for a US employee retirement or health plan is the legal Summary Plan Description (SPD). The current SPD takes precedence over any other written, online, or verbal information you may have been given -- but is still subject to change. The employer's plan administrator is required by law to provide the SPD upon request. Log into the plan administrator's website or call.


What is an SPD?

"Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) describe key features of the benefits... also include a directory of benefit resources, information about what happens when you experience certain changes in your life, and information about your rights under the programs. In the event of any inconsistency between the SPDs and the terms of the plans or programs, the terms of the plans or programs will control." --HP Continuum site

Succinct article: What is in an SPD? How do SPDs work? Investopedia on SPDs 


How to obtain SPDs.

HP (HP Inc.) 

- Request copies: Healthplan SPDs from the Benefits Center. Pension and 401(k) SPDs from Fidelity

- Many HP SPDs are also posted under "Benefits" on the official HP Continuum password-protected retiree website. 

- The HPAA has copies of some SPDs: Current HP Retirement Plans   Legacy HP Retirement Plans. (May not be current.)

HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company)  Directory of two dozen HPE SPDs on a public page: https://ah-prod.com/hpebennav/plan_documents.html

EDS SPDs: (HP Inc is legal successor.) Go to  https://www.hpalumni.org/edsPension for HPAA's collection of SPD copies.


Much easier to use an SPD if you have an online copy.

Even if you have a paper copy, download a pdf copy and use Adobe Reader's search feature to find specific words or phrases. (Press Ctrl and F together on a PC -- or Command and F on a Mac.)


Start reading at the end. 

There is usually a section -- located a page or two in from the last age -- entitled "Plan Administrative Information" that gives vital info:

- Formal plan name, Employer Identification Number, and plan number

- Plan type, plan year, and how the plan is funded and administered

- Legally-required postal addresses for claims, appeals, and the plan trustee.


Addresses in SPDs are often out of date.

1. HP or HPE postal addresses. Assume that any addresses given in an SPD are extinct. (Hanover Street, Pruneridge Ave, America Center Drive, Legacy Drive, etc.)

Use the current corporate headquarters address instead:

HP Inc headquarters  (Many admin functions -- including HR, Benefits, and Payroll -- are located in Spring, TX.)

HPE headquarters (Spring, TX.) 

2. Administrator addresses.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order administrator: QDRO Consultants -- 1-800-527-8481. 3071 Pearl Road, Medina, OH 44256

HP or HPE Retirement Services Center (Fidelity) -- valid as of Feb 2022. PO Box 770003, Cincinnati, OH 45277-0070

ERISA disability claims address in San Marcos, TX is invalid. Contact the HP or HPE Benefits Center.


(Updated Feb 24, 2022.) Comments: info@hpalumni.org

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