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Who Offers Defined Benefit Plans?

Who Offers Defined Benefit Plans?

Any employer can offer a Defined Benefit plan, but not many do anymore. Before the introduction of Defined Contribution Plans, most large corporations such as General Electric, General Motors, etc. offered only Defined Benefit Plans. Over the years, it has put a huge burden on these corporations to guarantee the performance of these plans. If the plan has not performed according to the assumptions, the company would have to contribute the difference, which would have to come from their profits. In order to shift the burden to the employees, most companies now offer Defined Contribution Plans (such as 401(k)s, etc.) instead of Defined Benefit Plans. Continue reading...

What’s the Difference between a Defined Benefit Plan and a Defined Contribution Plan?

Defined Benefit plans and Defined Contribution plans can sometimes look similar, but the main difference is what is certain and defined. In a Defined Benefit Plan, your employer guarantees you a certain fixed monthly payment for the rest of your life, so the benefit is said to be defined. A Defined Contribution Plan’s only certainty is the amount that went into the employee account, so the contributions are defined. Continue reading...

Can I Decide How My Money is Invested in My Defined Benefit Plan?

Employees have no control over the assets in their Defined Benefit plan. The short and simple answer is: No. The payments you will receive in retirement are calculated according to a pre-determined formula. Your employer is responsible for managing the investments, while you simply receive the agreed-upon payments when they are due to you - assuming all goes as planned. Most pension funds, as they are sometimes called, are invested in very conservative instruments such as long term government bonds and fixed accounts offered by some insurance companies and banking institutions. Continue reading...

If I Leave My Job, Will I Still Get a Pension?

You may not be vested in a pension if you lave too early, or you may have to accept a lower payout. This depends on how many years you worked for your employer, and other factors which are described in your pension plan document. In some cases, the employer can specify a minimum number of years you have to work for the company in order to receive a Pension. Otherwise, the amount you receive will be vested in portions over a few years, until you will be able to leave your job and keep 100% of the accrued Pension benefits. Continue reading...

Can I Withdraw Money From My Defined Benefit Plan?

Most pensions will not allow in-service withdrawals but some will allow loans. While you are working for your employer, you typically may not withdraw money from your Defined Benefit Plan. The IRS permits plan loans if the plan administrator permits it. In-service withdrawals are possible after age 62, meaning money can get taken out before separation from service. If you leave your employer before retirement, the funds are usually kept in a Trust until you reach retirement age (or until a specified age at which you can start to receive the benefits). Continue reading...

Can Something Happen to My Defined Benefit Plan?

Can Something Happen to My Defined Benefit Plan?

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will insure benefits up to a point, but it may not replace the full value of a pension if a plan goes belly-up. While the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) insures thousands of Pensions across the country, the entire benefit of your Defined Benefit Plan is in no way guaranteed. Some corporations can “freeze” your pension, meaning they stop the counter on the number of years you’ve worked, and use that as the number to calculate your monthly payments. Many pensions today are struggling after the long period of low interest rates on fixed instruments like government bonds. Continue reading...

What is the Difference Between Cash-Balance Plans and Other Retirement Plans?

What is the Difference Between Cash-Balance Plans and Other Retirement Plans?

Cash Balance plans are Defined Benefit plans, but are not much like Pensions as you may know them, or other types of retirement plans, for that matter. On one side of the retirement isle you have defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s and SEPs and so on, where the contributions are certain, or at least ascertainable, while the ending balance or benefit of each employee’s account is unknown, or at least does not have to be (and in most cases isn’t). Continue reading...

What are the Contribution Limits for My Keogh Plan?

The contribution limit for a Keogh Plan depends on what type of Keogh Plan you set up. There are Defined Contribution and Defined Benefit Keoghs. Defined Contribution plans could be profit-sharing or money-purchase plans. As of 2013, a Defined Contribution Keogh Plan allows the employer to contribute up to 25% of your income, or $53,000, whichever is less, and this will constitute the profit-sharing or money-purchase aspect of the plan. Continue reading...

Can I Withdraw Money From My Cash-Balance Plan?

It’s not likely that a cash-balance plan will allow for early withdrawals. Generally speaking, you can’t withdraw money from a Cash-Balance Plan before you retire unless it is to roll over assets to a new employer’s plan or a personal IRA. Once the money is in another account, you could potentially have full access to it, minus the 10% IRS penalty if you’re under 59 ½. Loans from a cash balance plan may be permitted if they abide by the same rules as 401(k) loans — and if the IRS and the DOL will allow you to consider your vested amount in your hypothetical account as adequate collateral. Continue reading...

What is a Keogh plan?

Keogh plans are any type of qualified plan at a sole proprietorship or partnership. Keogh plans come in various forms, and this is because they are actually quite a broad category. IRS Publication 560 (found here) divides workplace retirement plans into SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, and Qualified Plans. This last category, Qualified Plans, includes profit-sharing plans, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, money purchase plans, and defined benefit plans such as pensions and salary continuation plans. Continue reading...

How Do I Invest Money in My Cash-Balance Plan?

How Do I Invest Money in My Cash-Balance Plan?

Employees do not have control of their own accounts in a Cash Balance plan, but they can possibly influence how much is contributed each year. Contributions to a Cash Balance plan should not be adjusted more than once every few years, but they can be adjusted. In small partnerships without many, or any, employees, there is likely to be more flexibility, or willingness for the owners of the business to jump through the hoops required to have the plan re-worked. Such changes could require a new plan document. Continue reading...

How Does a 401(k) Compare With Other Retirement Plans?

There are several types of retirement plans that employers can provide, but 401(k)s are one of the most popular. Other employer-sponsored retirement plans include SIMPLEs, SEPs, and various kinds of defined benefit plans. SIMPLE IRAs are sometimes called SIMPLE 401(k)s, because they operate under the same laws as Safe Harbor 401(k)s. They both are primarily employee-funded, and have rigid standards for employer contributions. Continue reading...

How Can I Establish a Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan?

Like other qualified plans, these need a written plan document and investments to fund. A written plan document must be established and distributed to all employees notifying them of the plan and of all pertinent details, in language they can understand. Plans must be established by December 31 of the year for which contributions will be made, and, since the contributions come from the employer for both of these, the employer has at least 8 months of the following year to meet funding requirements. Continue reading...

What is Accrual Rate?

This term might apply to bonds or pensions and other financial instruments which build up interest value which is paid out at a later time. Accrual Rate is the rate at which a nominal interest rate is credited to an account that will be paid out at a later time. A bond sold in the secondary market, for instance, will take the accrual rate into account if the sale takes place in between coupon payments. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Lump-Sum Distribution From My Pension Plan?

There is no guaranteed option to make lump-sum distributions from pension plans. You may be able to take a lump-sum distribution, but the option is not always available. Most employers are eager to get another participant (liability) off the books. This kind of settlement is a lot like a debt settlement, in fact, that’s exactly what it is to the plan fund. As long as you are part of the plan, you represent an unknown quantity of liability, because they have to keep paying your benefits, and possibly spousal benefits for as long as either of you shall live. This is an option you may have upon reaching retirement, if the plan offers it to you. Continue reading...

What Happens If I Withdraw Money From my Cash-Balance Plan After I Retire?

You may not be able to make non-recurring withdrawals of various amounts from a Cash Balance plan. After you retire, you’ll typically have two options: a fixed monthly payment for the rest of your life, or a lump-sum payment. Cash balance plans generally do not allow random, non-recurring withdrawals because the individual account was always a hypothetical account. The administrative work of fetching various sums for everyone and keeping up with the total pool of plan assets is not the administrator’s prerogative with these plans. Continue reading...

What is an Accidental Death Benefit?

What is an Accidental Death Benefit?

Accidental Death Benefits are paid only if the cause of death is deemed to be an accident. Sometimes a regular life insurance or health insurance contract will offer an Accidental Death rider. The rider is appended to the contract for a relatively inexpensive additional premium and will pay a specified death benefit if the insured’s cause of death results from an accident. There are several exclusions to the definition of accident, and usually these are things like dangerous activities (sky diving, cave diving), acts of violence and war, and accidents resulting from driving under the influence or other examples where the insured has willfully put themselves in danger, or committed a crime, will usually not be covered. Continue reading...

How are Social Security Benefits Computed?

How are Social Security Benefits Computed?

Social Security retirement benefits are computed by finding the average monthly income of a worker during the highest-earning 35 years of employment, and then it plugs that amount into a formula for to determine their full benefit at Normal Retirement Age (NRA). A person may then choose to take benefits before or after NRA, with applicable reductions or additions. There are different equations for spousal benefits, survivor’s benefits, and maximum family benefits. Continue reading...

What Kinds of Social Security Benefits Exist?

What Kinds of Social Security Benefits Exist?

Social Security benefits are streams of income available for retired workers, their spouses, children and dependents, and survivors. It provides insurance against longevity, disability, and, to some extent, the death of the primary contributor. Social Security benefits are available to a worker and their dependents if the worker has triggered eligibility, which usually calculated as earning over $5,040 for 10 years, but is modified if the worker dies or is disabled at a young age. Benefits can be paid to multiple people within a household (and an ex-spouse) based on one worker’s contributions to the system, up to a Maximum Family Limit, which is somewhere between 150-180% of a worker’s full benefit amount. Continue reading...

What is Publication 15-b on Fringe Benefits?

IRS Link to Publication — Found Here IRS Publication 15-b outlines the different types of fringe benefits available to employees and describes which ones are taxable to the employee and which ones are not. Fringe benefits might include anything from the use of a company car to an employee life insurance policy paid for by the employer. Fringe benefits may be provided to regular employees or independent contractors (1099 employees). Some examples of fringe benefits include tuition reduction, group disability and cafeteria plans, and childcare benefits. Continue reading...