A pension provides regular income payments that you would receive for the rest of your life when you stop working--typically when people retire. A pension plan is a large pool of savings grows over time through contributions from workers or plan participants and their employer or plan sponsor. The plan assets are managed by professional investment managers, and most of the risks (such as investment risk) associated with managing plan assets will be assumed by the plan sponsor rather than plan participants. Particulars will vary from plan-to-plan. For example, there are variables such as how the money or contributions are set aside, who makes contributions, how the income is generated, when payments are made, the types of payments that are made, and how long pension payments last. The basic idea is that the longer you work the higher the payout. There may be tax breaks for pension contributions and there are limits on how much can go into a plan. Many pensions are payable to a surviving spouse on the death of the policyholder, and some pension payments are inflation-adjusted. The term pension is most often associated with defined benefit pension plans that provide regular, annuity-like payments to retirees. This is in contrast to defined contribution plans such as the 401k that shift most responsibilities onto employees and do not provide guaranteed lifetime income.

Treasury Department Focuses on Longevity Risk with Retirement Income Guidance

The Treasury Department just released a proposed set of regulations that could have a meaningful impact on the retirement income market in the U.S.

The Treasury’s guidance package builds on feedback received in response to the request for comments issued by the Labor and Treasury Departments last fall.


Calculating the Value of a Pension Buyout Offer

One way to evaluate a pension buyout involves determining what your future pension payments are worth today and then comparing that value to the buyout offer.

In other words, compare the lump sum pension buyout offer to what would you have to pay today to buy and...

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Record High Deficits for Defined Benefit Pension Plans

Defined benefit pension plans are the traditional and increasingly rare type of pension plans offered through employers. In contrast to defined contribution pension plans such as the 401(k), participants in defined benefit (“DB”) plans receive contractually guaranteed income and assume none of the risks (investment risk, interest rate risk , longevity risk , etc) associated with producing that lifetime income stream. The problem is that defined benefit plans are scarce, and many of...

Why Low Interest Rates Increase the Cost of Your Personal Pension Plan

Retirees and those saving for retirement should think of themselves as the managers of their own personal pension plan.  

Many people used to have access to a traditional, defined benefit pension plan through their employers.  With a defined benefit pension plan, someone else (an employer or professional managers hired by an employer) assumes responsibility for managing plan contributions, investments and...

Market Gyrations Cloud the Larger Picture

A very interesting article from Financial Times columnist David Stevenson suggests that investors are making the very common mistake of missing sight of the forest for the trees. In this case, the trees are the daily ups and downs of the stock market. Market volatility naturally draws many people into a sort of short-term obsession with undulating asset prices and portfolio values. Stevenson makes that very valid point that this short-term obsession obscures larger, longer-term and likely...
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