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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Who is the Plan Sponsor?
The term Plan Sponsor refers to the Employer who established and maintains the Plan. The entity is defined in the Plan Document. The Plan Sponsor has several major responsibilities: To act in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries To ...
Who is the Plan Administrator?
The person(s) or entity identified in the plan document as having responsibility for running the plan. It may be the employer, a committee, a company executive or someone hired for that purpose (3(16) Plan Administrator). A Plan Administrator may be...
Who and What is a Fiduciary?
A fiduciary is any person who uses their own discretion when administering and managing the plan or controlling the plan’s assets. Fiduciary status is based on functions performed, not just a person’s title. They ordinarily include the t...
Who is the Third Party Administrator (TPA)?
Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group is the third party administrator and recordkeeper, a non-fiduciary, helping you fulfill your administrative and compliance responsibilities in connection to the retirement plan. This includes assistance with c...
What are 3(16) Plan Administration Services?
Every tax-qualified retirement plan must have a person that serves as the “Plan Administrator” as defined in ERISA Section 3(16). The Plan Administrator is a statutory plan fiduciary and is ultimately responsible for all aspects of runni...
What is a Fidelity Bond?
ERISA requires that every fiduciary of an employee benefit plan and every person who handles plan funds be bonded. These bonds cover the plan from loss of assets due to fraud or dishonesty. The ERISA bond is required to protect the participants and ...
What are the Allowable Safe Harbor Reasons for Hardship Withdrawals?
Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans, if elected under the plan's Adoption Agreement, may allow for withdrawals when an immediate and heavy financial needs is evident. While a Plan Administrator may offer hardship requirements other then those to be ...
What are the timing rules for submitting employee deferral contributions into the plan?
Department of Labor (DOL) regulations require an employer to segregate employee contributions, including loan repayments, from its general assets at the earliest date on which the contributions can reasonably be segregated from corporate assets, but...
What is a Controlled Group (Code Section 414(b) & (c))?
A controlled group is a group of related businesses that have common ownership. For purposes of determining qualification of plan(s), all employees of all corporations which are members of a controlled group of corporations, within the meaning of S...
What is an Affiliated Service Groups (Code Section 414(m))?
An Affiliated Service Group (ASG) consists of two or more organizations that have a service relationship and, in some cases, an ownership relationship. ASG members are generally in fields of service organizations (health, law, engineering, architect...
What am I supposed to give a new employee regarding the retirement plan?
Please provide new employee with two items:  Retirement Plan Education Kit - This Kit includes retirement planning education, information on how to log in and enroll, and also includes all of the legally required plan notices. Summary Plan D...
How do participants enroll in the plan?
Participants will use Sentinel’s website to enroll in the retirement plan. A step-by-step wizard walks the participant through confirming their personal information, choosing a contribution rate, designating a beneficiary and making investment...
How does Automatic Enrollment work?
If the Plan Document includes an Automatic Enrollment provision, Sentinel will utilize the payroll file to help you manage automatic enrollment. Automatic Contribution Arrangement notices are integrated into Enrollment Kits. Automated notificatio...
How do I submit participant information changes?
Changes to active participants' name, address, date of birth, date of hire, date of termination, etc. will be reported to Sentinel through the payroll contribution files. Terminated participants will self-manage changes using the Sentinel websit...
How do participants make investment changes?
All investment election changes must be completed by the participant online or verbally by calling the Sentinel Service Center and speaking with a representative. If you require or would like confirmation of these types of requests, Sentinel can pro...
How do participants change their salary deferral into the plan?
Changes to participant deferral contributions are made by the participant through the Sentinel website. A confirmation email is sent to the participant. Sentinel will also provide contribution rate changes to you via email confirmation. In addition,...
How do I track participant beneficiary elections?
Beneficiary designations are updated by participants through the Sentinel website. During the Online Enrollment Steps, a participant will be prompted and required to elect their beneficiary. In addition, a participant may change their election onlin...
How do I submit participant contributions and/or loan payments to the plan?
Your payroll submission file will be uploaded each payroll period to Sentinel. The file will include your plan participant deferral contributions, any applicable loan repayments and employer contributions (if deposited each payroll period). In addit...
How do I process a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)?
Any participant who has attained age 70 ½ and is terminated or is considered a 5% owner is required to take minimum distributions each year. A 5% owner is defined as an employee who owns more than 5% of the employer at any time in the determi...
How do I remove the small balances of terminated participants from the plan?
Mandatory distributions, also known as sweeps, are a great option for removing small balances from your plan and reducing your fees. Our automated process reviews your plan periodically for terminated participants with vested balances under your pla...
How can a participant request a loan?
Participants will request loans through the Sentinel website using the “Request a Loan” option under the Manage My Account menu. Through the online wizard, the participant will see current loan balances and the amount available for a new...
How do Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) work?
The term Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) means any judgment, decree or order that creates or recognizes the existence of an alternate payee’s right to receive all or a portion of the benefits payable with respect to a participant und...
Do I have to provide plan notices to participants every year?
Yes. Each year Sentinel will post your annual participant notice package to the Plan Sponsor Website. Email notification is provided once the package has been posted and is ready for download. This is typically provided around 60 days in advance of ...
How does vesting work?
Sentinel will track vesting for all your participants according to the provisions of your Plan Document. Plan participant hours will be imported into our system each payroll period using the contribution payroll file. Sentinel’s recordkeeping ...
How do participants receive statements?
Sentinel’s participant statement provides participants with a clear understanding of how much they need to save in order to stay on track for retirement. A personalized gap analysis outlines the difference between the amount of money a partici...
Can participants access the plan using their phones?
Yes. When participants download the mobile app, they can access their retirement account balances whenever and wherever they choose, quickly and easily. Participants can check their balances, see transaction activity, change investment elections, re...
What is the Service Center phone number?
888-762-6088 Sentinel’s Service Center is available each business day from 8:00am to 6:00pm Eastern Time (excluding holidays). Live representatives have access to a customized dashboard to provide service information whenever a participant...
Does Sentinel offer financial education on the website?
Yes, through our proprietary Health + Weath Hub.  The Health + Wealth Hub is a library of financial wellness content, covering topics such as Budgeting & Debt, College Saving & Planning, and Health & Wellness. Included in the Hu...
Does Sentinel offer webinars for additional training?
Yes. Webinars are frequently offered to explore important topics and enhance your experience working with Sentinel Benefits. You can join our experts in interactive discussions as they explore new features and capabilities that will help improve ho...
What are the Sentinel Alert emails I receive?
Sentinel Alerts are email messages published by Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group featuring the latest in employee benefits news and industry legislation updates. ...
Does Sentinel provide information about the market conditions?
Yes. Chief Investment Officer Matt McPhail, CFA, AIF and his team publish a quarterly update with current developments in today’s economy as well as their thoughts on future market conditions. The update also details how these trends affect th...
How do distributions work?
Participants who have separated from service or who need to take a distribution due to age or financial hardship must request a distribution via the Sentinel website. The distribution option will only populate if the participant is eligible for a di...
When do our employees become eligible to participate in the retirement plan?
This information is provided in your Plan Documents.  If Sentinel provides these documents for you, you can obtain a copy of your Summary Plan Description (SPD) from the reporting section in your plan sponsor web account.  Access it by cho...