Qualified Retirement Plans and Record Retention Requirements

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is the framework for the minimum standards of reporting and disclosure requirements for qualified retirement plans in private industry. Did you know that includes record retention requirements?

Section 107 of ERISA stipulates that in general plan-related materials should be kept for at least six years after the filing of an ERISA-related return or report. Documents that would be subject to this six-year retention requirement include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Original signed and dated plan document
  • Original signed and dated plan amendments
  • Board or administrative committee minutes, actions, resolutions
  • Most recent IRS determination letter
  • Required communications to employees
  • Financial reports including investment analyses, certified audits, trustee’s reports

Department of Labor (DOL) regulations (§2520.107-1) state that using electronic media to comply with record retention requirements is acceptable as long as the following conditions are satisfied:

  • Record keeping system has reasonable controls to ensure the integrity, accuracy, authenticity and reliability of the records;
  • Records are maintained in reasonable order and in a safe and accessible place, and in such manner as they may be readily inspected or examined;
  • Records are readily convertible into legible and readable paper copy;
  • Record keeping system is not subject to any agreement or restriction that would compromise or limit a person’s ability to comply with any reporting and disclosure requirement or any other obligation under Title I of ERISA;
  • Adequate records management practices are established and implemented

Original paper records may be disposed of any time after they are transferred to an electronic record keeping system that complies with the requirements listed above; however, original records may not be discarded if the electronic record would not constitute a duplicate or substitute record under the terms of the plan and applicable federal or state law.