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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?

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 a Pension?

Pensions are income streams guaranteed to employees upon their retirement. A Pension is a type of Defined Benefit Plan in which your employer promises to pay you a certain amount every month for the rest of your life. Employers who are part of the pension plans are sometimes called pensioners. An employer retains the funds in a trust, usually, and everyone’s pension assets are pooled together in what’s called a Pension Fund. Continue reading...

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...

How are Pension Benefits Computed?

Enrolled actuaries must be used to establish the benefit formula.The amount of money you will receive (monthly) from your employer during retirement is calculated by a formula which incorporates your age, your salary, the number of years you worked for your employer, and other possible factors. The IRS stipulates that an enrolled actuary must be contracted to perform the calculations, with input from the employer, to determine how the benefit will be calculated and to make sure that the plan assets will be sufficient to pay the benefits when the employees reach retirement. 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 Pension Plan?

This is rarely an option, but the IRS does allow it. In general, you can’t withdraw money from a Pension Plan before you retire. You also may not be able to make non-recurring withdrawals after retirement, unless it is a lump-sum settlement. If your plan allowed it, the IRS would treat it just like withdrawals from a 401(k). Withdrawals before 59 ½ would be penalized with a 10% early withdrawal tax. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Loan From My Pension Plan?

Generally this won’t be an option that your plan allows, but the IRS has approved it if the employer wants to. Generally speaking, you cannot. Hypothetically, if allowed in the plan document, and if the pension fund had enough of a surplus to handle such withdrawals, the IRS might find it permissible. The laws concerning such loans are the same for all qualified accounts, such as 401(k)s. An enrolled actuary would need to help you define when a loan might be allowable in particular deferred benefit plan. A Pension’s main goal is to pay out in retirement for the duration of the obligation, which may be your life and possibly the life of your spouse. Because of the massive liability they shoulder, pensions are inherently rigid and uncompromising when it comes to loans and withdrawals. Continue reading...

Will My Pension Payments Affect My Social Security Payments?

Not in the way you’re probably thinking, but the answer may be yes. Generally speaking, the answer is no. Your Social Security payments depend on two factors only: the age you started to receive Social Security benefits, and the amount of contributions you made to Social Security over the years. Your pension comes from your employer, and Social Security comes from the government. However, your tax liabilities might depend on the combination of your pension and Social Security benefits, and you social security benefits can actually be taxed. In one of the few calculations that has not been indexed for inflation lately, if your retirement income is over a certain number, up to 85% of your social security may be subject to tax as income. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Periodic Distribution from my Pension Plan?

Regular pension payments are periodic distributions. Yes. This will be the default option on pension arrangements, unless companies are trying to settle with pensioners for lump-sum amounts that will lessen the plan’s long term liability. The options for periodic distributions will always be for periods less than or up to a year in length. Periodic distributions can help you sleep better at night, knowing that you have a fixed stream of income for the rest of your life. It may not be enough to sustain your lifestyle completely, but it will give you a sense of financial security and prohibit overspending in a way that the lump-sum distribution does not. Continue reading...

How Do I Invest Money in My Pension?

Employees are not able to control investments in a Pension Fund, but you can control a few variables. You cannot direct investments in your pension. Since a pension is a type of Defined Benefit Plan provided by your employer, the company worries about the investments, and you will receive a fixed monthly payment that is calculated based on your age, salary, and number of years worked for the company. Continue reading...

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...

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 Pension Plan After I Retire?

Usually such withdrawals will be in the form of income payments, but there may be other options. If the plan administrator allows it, you can make non-recurring (one-time) withdrawals from a pension fund. This is usually not allowed, however. The regular qualified plan distribution rules will apply as far as the IRS is concerned, and they may charge a 10% penalty if the withdrawals are taken before age 59½. After you retire, you’ll typically have two options: a fixed monthly payment for the rest of your life (also known as a Life Annuity), or a lump-sum payment. Continue reading...

Do I Need Life Insurance if I have an Annuity?

If an annuity or pension will pay your spouse a survivor’s benefit that is adequate to support his or her lifestyle, then you may not need to a life insurance policy to cover this need. Annuities are seen as longevity insurance which protect against outliving money, while life insurance protects beneficiaries if the insured person dies younger than expected. If something happens to you and you have an annuity, your surviving spouse would either continue to receive periodic benefits or take a lump-sum distribution, depending on what kind of payout option you chose when you signed the contract. In the case of the lump sum it may only be for the amount of principal that had not been paid out yet in annuity payments. Continue reading...

When Will Social Security Go Bankrupt?

Most estimates project that the Social Security Trust Funds will be depleted by 2037. The system could still function at 70% of their full obligations by transferring cash flow directly from social security taxes to the retired beneficiaries, which most people don’t realize when they spread the news that the system is tanking. Adjustments to the system and interest rates could change how this plays out and keep it operating closer to full capacity. Continue reading...

What does “Buy-Side” Mean?

The “buy side” refers to businesses in the financial services industry such as pensions, mutual funds, and asset managers that manage money. Since firms on this “side” of Wall Street tend to be the ones buying and selling securities for their portfolios, when a person works for one of these funds or companies they are said to be on the “buy side.” Research analysts that provide analysis and data to fund managers solely for the purpose of making investment decisions within the portfolio are “buy side analysts.” That research is typically not published for public use. Continue reading...

What is the Best Age to Start Receiving Social Security Benefits?

Generally speaking, the closer you are to age 70, the better. But everyone will need to take all of their options into account and use some planning tools or the assistance of a professional planner to arrive at an ideal cash flow scenario for retirement. All assets should be brought into consideration, as well as the possible social security benefits of both spouses and their spousal benefits. There is no one “best age” to start receiving the Social Security benefits. Everyone has a Normal Retirement Age (NRA), which determines the age at which you can receive your “full” Social Security benefits, but you can defer your benefits past this point to receive an 8% increase for every additional year you deferred your benefit. Note that benefits cannot be deferred past age 70. Continue reading...

What is a Life Income Fund?

Life Income Funds (LIFs) are available to Canadians who have left a job before retirement and who are entitled to a sum of money in their pension plan. LIFs offer some flexibility, more than some other alternatives, but the amount that can be withdrawn at a time is limited to a minimum and maximum. The former employee could choose to leave the funds in the pension plan, or to use one of the alternatives to LIFs, which include a Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA), which is provincially-regulated, or a Locked-In Retirement Savings Plan (LRSP), which is federally regulated. LIRAs and LRSPs do not permit regular withdrawals, and are seen as savings vehicles rather than income vehicles. 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...