A Summary Plan Description (SPD) is the document employers must provide employees when a benefit plan is set up. It outlines the terms of the ERISA plan or insurance policy that provides you benefits. It must fairly disclose all the coverage, exclusion and limitation provisions of the ERISA plan. Usually the SPD is the policy the health, disability or life insurer prepares and distributes. But sometimes an ERISA plan is "self-funded." This means the employer pays the benefits out of its own assets. In that case the SPD may be the employee handbook that outlines your benefits.