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A Quick Guide to Pension Plans—What to Know

Employees and professional workers looking for a way to help them save up for their retirement could look into getting a pension from the company they’re working for. A pension is a kind of benefit plan given by your employer as a form of fringe benefit.

What your boss does is they will continue to pay into the fund throughout your stay in the company. During the day of your retirement, as their long-time employee, you will acquire a particular sum of money, given that you follow the policies it involves.

Other than your pension being your possible chosen retirement plan, you can also opt for a 401(k), which is a contribution plan. However, this article will only tackle retirement pension plans. Keep reading below to learn more about the program and how it can benefit you. 

Defining a Pension Plan

A pension plan is a kind of retirement program provided mainly by government organizations and large corporate businesses. The program offers income to employees each month, which you can receive on your retirement. Unfortunately, not all companies cater to pension plans.

Since a government pension is also referred to as a defined benefit plan, it means you can look forward to knowing how much money you can expect to receive during your retirement from the start. Your company will let you know before signing up for a pension, whereas the total sum is computed using a formula based on the number of years working for the company and your salary.

Meanwhile, if you wish to leave before your scheduled retirement date, you are still free to do so. While you can expect to receive money from your pension plan, especially if you’re several years down the line and your savings have accumulated over time, the amount will depend on a vesting schedule.

How a Pension Plan Works

As you continue to work for your company, your employer will keep funding your pension plan. When the day comes for you to throw in the towel and retire, you can finally gain all the accumulated money, which is further distributed through checks you receive monthly. 

For most employees, the total money from your pension plan is determined using a formula, giving individuals different payouts based on their situation. Some factors, such as how old you are, how long you’ve been working for the company, and how much compensation you can receive, can affect the formula.

The US Department of Labor sets the rules that companies must adhere to when providing pension plans for their employees. After all, there must be a limit regarding the amount of money business owners provide annually for investment funds like pension programs.

Resigning from Work Before Retirement

Depending on the pension plan involved, employees can follow a cliff vesting schedule or a graded vesting schedule. If your program falls under a cliff vesting schedule, you are qualified to acquire 100% of the total income in your pension within a particular year.

For example, if you set out for a five-year cliff, but you fail to reach your 5th year and decide to retire beforehand, you can’t expect to receive anything from your pension. However, retiring after five years means you’re entitled to 100% of the money involved in your program.

Meanwhile, a graded vesting schedule allows you to receive a percentage of your pension when you aim to work for a more extended period for the company. It prevents you from gaining nothing from your benefits when you decide to retire before the time is up, although the amount will be based on the pension formula and vesting schedule.


Large corporations and government pension plans provide numerous financial benefits for working professionals in need and are looking for compensation before they retire for good. If you have to resign from work before your scheduled retirement date, so long as your pension program follows the proper vesting schedule, you can still receive benefits. It all comes down to having your boss explain your plan to help you choose a pension plan with the proper features to give you an easier time looking forward to living a comfortable future.

Are you looking for retirement planning services in the US to help with your pension? My Federal Plan provides free consulting and retirement benefits planning for US federal employees in need. Get in touch with us today to schedule a free retirement planning session!

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