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Critical reporting changes to Forms 5500 and M-1

April 1, 2014


The Department of Labor (DOL)’s latest release of Form 5500 and its instructions includes revised reporting requirements critical for plan administrators to know and understand. The instructions address new reporting obligations relating to Form M-1 compliance information.

The modifications are the result of health care reform changes meant to address abuses in Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs), but the practical impact includes new or modified responsibilities for administrators of all welfare plans.

Changes that impact MEWAs and ECEs

Organizations with MEWAs or certain Entities Claiming Exception (ECEs) are impacted by new requirements for Form M-1, the annual report for these arrangements. You should know:

  • The administrator of a MEWA must file the Form M-1 report annually.
  • The administrator of an ECE must file the report once during the first three years after an ECE is established.
  • There are many exceptions to the filing requirements (additional information can be found in the instructions to the M-1 form).
  • The filing deadline is no later than March 1 following the year the filing is required.
  • The information return provides data on custodial and financial information and plan compliance with part 7 of ERISA.
  • Any plan that is required to file the Form M-1 is now required to file a Form 5500.

Changes that impact all welfare plans

Every welfare plan has been affected by the revised reporting requirements. You should know:

  • Small welfare benefit plans (under 100 lives) that previously were not required to file the Form 5500 will now be subject to the reporting requirement if they have a Form M-1 reporting requirement.
  • The Form 5500 for all welfare plans must now include an attachment, clearly labeled “Form M-1 Compliance Information” which provides information on compliance with the Form M-1 filing requirements.
  • You can view a sample of the required attachment. Note that this sample assumes the plan does not have a Form M-1 filing requirement.
  • If a plan’s Form 5500 filing does not include a completed attachment, the filing can be rejected as incomplete and/or subject to penalties under ERISA.

Understanding MEWAs and ECEs

A MEWA is an employee welfare benefit plan or other program that provides medical care to the employees (or the beneficiaries) of two or more employers. The term MEWA does not include any plan or arrangement subject to a collectively bargained plan, rural electric cooperative or a rural telephone cooperative.

An ECE is an entity established or maintained pursuant to one or more agreements that are deemed to be a collective bargaining arrangement.


To further discuss the additional Form 5500 requirements for welfare benefit plans, rely on the professionals of CSH’s Qualified Plans Administration and Consulting Group (QPAC). Your questions can be directed to Bill Edwards or Kim Flach, who look forward to speaking with you.

We know it’s not easy to stay well-informed on every aspect of your fiduciary responsibilities. So QPAC strives to keep you updated on important deadlines, any changes in law or trends in regulatory interpretation. As plan designers and third-party administrators, it’s our job to ease the stress and workload faced by plan sponsors.

All content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Matters discussed in this article are subject to change. For up-to-date information on this subject please contact a Clark Schaefer Hackett professional. Clark Schaefer Hackett will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.


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