Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the answers to some of the questions most commonly asked by FreeERISA users. If you have additional questions not covered by this FAQ, please feel free to contact us.
Form 5500 Database
Beyond the Scope of FreeERISA
What is FreeERISA.com?
FreeERISA.com is a division of Judy Diamond Associates, a leading provider of data to the employee benefits industry for fifty years. We offer a free Form 5500 database and multiple premium (for-pay) databases, as well as numerous helpful articles related to employee benefits, human resources, and finance. Currently we have over 640,000 registered users.
What is ERISA?
ERISA is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. This act requires companies to file information with the IRS on their qualified pension and welfare plans on an annual basis. This information is made publicly available on FreeERISA.
Where do you get your data?
Our data comes from a variety of public and private sources including the US Department of Labor and the IRS.
Where can I find more comprehensive search tools than are available on FreeERISA?
Many financial professionals require more flexibility, power, and timeliness for their prospecting and marketing than can be made available freely on FreeERISA.com. Individuals interested in expanded database offerings may want to contact our parent company, Judy Diamond Associates, at 800-231-0669 or visit their website, http://www.judydiamond.com.
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Why do I have to register to use the site?
In order to support our free data and news resources, FreeERISA relies on revenue from a variety of sources, including advertising. Registering helps us keep those services free. In addition, registering prevents other FreeERISA users from accessing any premium features you may have registered for. Registration is fast, easy, and secure. Register Now.
Will I receive spam if I register for your site?
No! Spam is e-mail that is unsolicited. Any e-mail you receive as a registered user of FreeERISA is approved by us, and in many cases will inform you of major improvements to the website. We are in compliance with all federal anti-spam legislation, and you are free to opt-out at any time.
Why haven't I received my activation e-mail?
When you register, your activation e-mail is sent out immediately via our automated system to the e-mail address you provided during your registration. Depending on Internet traffic, it will usually arrive in seconds, although we ask you to wait at least twenty-four hours before contacting us in the event that there is a problem. If you did not receive your activation e-mail, it is likely due to one of several factors:
- The e-mail address you provided us was invalid, or your mailbox is full.
- You e-mail server is blocking the password e-mail as spam.
- Your e-mail program is filing the password e-mail to a spam or bulk e-mail folder.
- The password e-mail was accidentally deleted.
- There was a typo in the e-mail address you provided (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com)
In any case, if you do not receive your activation e-mail, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. This allows us to see that your e-mail address is indeed valid and your account will be activated right away. Please be sure to send this e-mail from the address you used to register, as for security reasons we cannot activate an account if the request comes from a different address (i.e. you cannot register using your personal e-mail address and then request your activation using your business e-mail address).
How do I change my password, e-mail, or other registration information?
You can update your account by clicking on myFreeERISA, available through the FreeERISA menu bar.
How do I unsubscribe from your e-mail list?
I unsubscribed, but I'm still getting e-mails!
E-mail lists are typically generated several days in advance, so it may take up to a week for your unsubscribe request to be processed. If you re-register for FreeERISA, you will continue receiving e-mails, even if you formerly submitted an unsubscribe request. It is also possible that you registered using several e-mail addresses – all must be removed individually.
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What is my username?
Your username is simply the e-mail address you used to register with.
I've forgotten my password.
If at any time you are attempting to log in, but cannot remember your password, simply enter your e-mail address and click the Forgot Your Password link, available on the sign in page.
I receive an error that says "There is no user registered with this email address."
To register for FreeERISA, please use our registration page. Also verify that the e-mail address you entered does not contain any typos. Often users will allow their browser to fill in the field for them, not realizing that the browser had saved erroneous information.
I receive an error that says "Invalid password or email!"
Please be sure you are logging in using your e-mail address and password exactly as they appear in our system – this is case sensitive. Also please be sure that there are no typos in your e-mail address. Often, users will let their browser complete the form for them, not realizing that the information your browser has saved is erroneous. Please verify you password by following the instructions in the "I've forgotten my password" section.
I receive an error that says "Login Error: Your user id and password did not match any entries in our list of users."
This error only appears for users attempting to log on the one of our premium Broker-Carrier Market Share databases, which require a separate registration from your FreeERISA registration.
I receive an error that says "The email address that you provided during your FreeERISA.com registration may not be working."
To comply with CAN-SPAM legislation, whenever an e-mail is bounced back to us as undeliverable, the account is then made inactive. To reactivate your account, please follow the instructions to update your account.
I'm able to successfully log on, but as soon as I try to use a database, I'm asked to enter my e-mail address and password again in a continuous loop.
This sounds like a problem with your browser's cookie settings. To access FreeERISA, simply adjust your browser to Accept All Cookies (the easy way), or set it to accept cookies from FreeERISA.com (the harder but more secure way). Please consult your browser's documentation for assistance on how to do this.
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Form 5500 Database
What is the form 5500?
The form 5500 is the document required by the ERISA act on which most FreeERISA data is based. The ERISA Form 5500 Filings database is the most popular service, free or premium, on FreeERISA. Depending on the plan, it may contain information on the number of participants, benefits offered, insurance brokers and carriers, service providers, trustees, plan assets, and more.
Why are the only 5500s I can find two or three years old?
The information on FreeERISA is the most recent publicly available information from the US Department of Labor. Companies have 210 days after the end of their plan year in which to file their form 5500. It then takes the government several months to make the information public. Our parent company, Judy Diamond Associates, offers several products with information more up-to-date then what is available on FreeERISA.
How can I obtain older form 5500s, attachments like actuarial assumptions, auditors reports, plan provisions, or financial statements?
Our document retrieval division can obtain paper copies of form 5500s, as well as many other documents, on a premium basis. You can find out more about our services and request documents by going to the Research Department.
Why doesn't Company X have a 5500 for Plan Y? I know they filed one!
Here are the most common reasons that you may not find a 5500 filing on FreeERISA:
- The plan sponsor or administrator did not file for the year in question.
- The 5500 was filed late, or with a request for an extension for filing.
- The 5500 filing was lost, by either the IRS or the DOL.
- The 5500 was filed under the name and EIN of its parent company.
- The sponsor filed a 5500-EZ (which we do not disclose on FreeERISA.com).
- The 5500 was filled out incorrectly, which delayed its acceptance.
- The plan was too small to file (i.e. most welfare plans with fewer than 100 participants).
- The sponsor was exempt from filing (non-profit, government agency, church, etc.).
- You may be using a variant spelling of the name: WALMART vs. WAL-MART.
- The name or EIN may have a typo in our records. (try searching on another field).
- The plan is less than two years old, and there are no records publicly available yet.
- The plan has not been released to the public in an electronic format.
Why doesn't this plan have a particular schedule?
Part II item 10 of the form 5500 will indicate which schedules were filed with the government. Several schedules, including the SSA, E, and F, are not made publicly available. Others only need to be filed when certain criteria are met. Schedule A is only filed if the plan is insured. Schedule C is only filed if a plan provider was paid $5,000 or more out of plan assets. For a complete list of requirements, please see the instructions to the form 5500, which are available from the IRS or DOL.
Will subscribing to the premium 5500 database allow me to view older 5500s/export data/allow me to create prospecting lists?
The premium 5500 search is simply an expanded search. The results will appear exactly as they do for the free 5500 search. The only difference is you will be able to narrow your searches down more easily to include only those plans you're interested in reviewing. If you're looking for a more comprehensive database, please contact our parent company, Judy Diamond Associates, at 800-231-0669, or visit their website.
How do I search for 5500s by EIN?
Our EIN Finder database acts as a gateway to the rest of the site, and will allow you to access all 5500s filed under a particular EIN number.
If the database is free, why is it asking me to pay whenever I do a search?
You still have access to the entire 5500 database free of charge, but you can only use the search options listed in the free section. Please make sure that you are not trying to search for plan type, region, assets, or participants and you will not be required to make payment.
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Why are you called "free" ERISA if you're charging for your services?
Most of our services are and will continue to remain available to the public at no charge. However, all or parts of several of our databases have required a significant amount of time and money to research and build, and we feel that, with the amount of business they can generate, they are well worth the cost to you.
What is a 5310?
Form 5310 is required to be filed with the IRS when a group decides to terminate its qualified retirement plan. This applies to defined contribution as well as defined benefit plans. These applications are divided into two files: OPEN (those 5310 cases that are still being reviewed by the government), and CLOSED (those 5310 cases on which a determination has been reached - either the plan has been granted permission to terminate, or has been denied).
How do I prospect for rollovers using the 5310 database?
If you would like information on prospecting for rollovers amongst plans in the 5310 database, please see our helpful 5310 information page.
What is a Top Hat plan?
Top Hat plans are exempt from ERISA rules regarding funding, participation, vesting, and fiduciary duties. Top Hat plans are unfunded plans maintained by employers primarily for the purpose of providing deferred compensation for a select group of management or highly compensated employees. Employers use the Top Hat exemptions to construct generous compensation packages to attract and retain key employees and executives. Top Hat plans do not file reports annually. Typically, the only information available on the plans is - sponsor, city and ZIP, number of plans, participants, and date filed.
Can I get a list of Top Hat plans in my area?
Yes. This is a service provided by our parent company, Judy Diamond Associates. Please call them at 800-231-0669 for more information.
How do I learn more about your Broker-Carrier Market Share and Pension Annuities databases?
These databases are hosted on FreeERISA by our parent company, Judy Diamond Associates. Please feel free to contact them at 800-231-0669 for more information on these and other useful databases.
How do I learn more about your other for-pay offerings?
Our sales team is available to answer any questions from 9AM to 5PM Eastern time, Monday through Friday, by calling 202-728-0111. Please note that this number is for sales inquiries and technical support on our premium databases only.
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How can I obtain documents that are not available on FreeERISA?
Our document retrieval division can obtain paper copies of many documents related to employee benefits and labor unions on a premium basis. You can find out more about our services and request documents by going to the Research Department.
Can I get plan documents?
Plan documents are only available to plan participants through their administrator or sponsor - we cannot obtain them.
Can I get a summary plan description?
Plan sponsors ceased having to file their SPDs with the government in 1997. Therefore, the most recent copy we could obtain would be from that year or earlier. Because of the datedness of the material, we do not recommend relying on SPDs for current plan information. The form 5500 is the better source.
How far back do your records go?
Depending on the type of document you requested, our records can go back as far as 1993 for most employee benefit filing and to 1959 for some labor-related documents.
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Beyond the Scope of FreeERISA
I want a list of companies that meet certain criteria.
Many users are looking for lists, usually for prospecting purposes, such as "all small 401(k) plans in my ZIP code." Such lists are available from our parent company, Judy Diamond Associates. You can contact their sales department at 800-231-0669.
Can you assist me in filing my form 5500?
Although FreeERISA hosts form 5500s, we do not have any financial or legal professionals on staff. If you require assistance in filing, please try contacting the Employee Benefit Security Administration's assistance line at 202-693-8630.
What should I do if my employer is withholding my pension?
The data on FreeERISA is geared primarily to financial professionals, and FreeERISA employees are not qualified to assist participants in obtaining benefits. You may want to try contacting a legal professional who specializes in ERISA law, or contact the Department of Labor's assistance line at 202-693-8630.
How much money is in my pension?
Although FreeERISA contains data on hundreds of thousands of benefit plans, we do not have any information on benefits available to individual participants. Please contact your plan sponsor or plan administrator for this information.
Is it legal to do what my business is doing?
FreeERISA does not employ any legal professionals, and is not qualified to make a determination regarding any legal or financial advising questions. You may want to try contacting a legal professional who specializes in ERISA law, or consult a website like planparticipant.org or benefitslink.com.
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