Pension Plan Help

This is general pension plan help so that you might understand your own employer-sponsored pension plan and how they work.

There are generally two different types of pension plans provided by an employer...

  • the traditional Defined Benefit Plan (lifetime pension) 
  • the 401K type Defined Contribution Plan (savings account)

Let's look at both types of retirement plans to see how they benefit you or your family member and to understand your future retirement options.

Defined Benefit Pension Plans

Do you realize you CAN understand your employers retirement plan? I worked in the Retirement benefit area for 25 years, and folks say, over and over: "I don't get this pension stuff". But I do... so let me explain what I know. It's honestly not that difficult -- we just don't really care to know until we are there.. at retirement's door.

I am definitely no "rocket scientist" but I sincerely hope this pension plan helper might just help you understand your own benefit calculation (that is IF you are lucky enough to have a pension)! The link above explains this plan in more detail.

ears ago, most employers had Defined Benefit plans, the traditional pension plan, which provided lifetime pensions for their retired workers. However, in more recent years, many employers are ridding themselves of the liability associated with these lifetime pensions.

If your employer has a Defined Benefit plan, be assured you have a good thing going! It will provide a lifetime income you can't outlive... monthly payments for life and probably survivor options for your spouse too.

Defined Contribution Pension Plans

Defined Contribution plans are the newer pension plans. They can be funded entirely by the employee or funded by both the employee and the employer... the latter is better, of course, as your employer is contributing towards your retirement future which helps your retirement savings account grow

Employer retirement plans vary widely... unions negotiate different levels of benefits, or the employer reduces a benefit to make it through hard times. Please be good to yourself and study that plan. It's your lifetime income -- you need to understand it.

Lost Pensions

It's easy to lose track of a pension, you move from job to job, and simply forget that the previous employer even had a pension plan for you! You move... they don't have any way to contact you, you've just lost a pension. It happens all the time...

Have you possibly lost one? CALL the previous employer or write a letter (so you'll get a written reply) and ASK. It's well worth the time if you believe you may have had a pension benefit.

Lost Pension: Employer is Out of Business

If an employer goes out of business, the pension plan is transferred to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. You can search online to see if a pension is due to you or your family member... and apply for it.