A pension plan is an employee benefit plan established or maintained by an employer or by an employee organization (such as a union), or both, that provides retirement income or defers income until termination of covered employment or beyond. There are a number of types of retirement plans, including the 401(k) plan and the traditional pension plan, known as a defined benefit plan.
Most private sector pension plans are covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Among other things, ERISA provides protections for participants and beneficiaries in employee benefit plans, including providing access to plan information. Also, those individuals who manage plans (and other fiduciaries) must meet certain standards of conduct under the fiduciary responsibilities specified in the law.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for administering and enforcing these provisions of ERISA. As part of carrying out its responsibilities, the agency provides consumer information on pension plans, as well as compliance assistance for employers, plan service providers, and others to help them comply with ERISA.
- Employment Law Guide - Employee Benefit Plans - Explains the basic provision of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
- Types of Retirement Plans - Provides descriptions of various retirement plans.
- Consumer Information on Pension Plans
- Participant Rights - Employees participating in retirement plans are granted several important rights. Among them are the right to disclosure of important plan information and a timely and fair process for benefit claims.
- A Look at 401(K) Fees for Employees - Provides detailed information on 401(K) fees.
- What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan - Provides information to help answer many of the most common questions about pension plans.
- How to File a Claim for Your Benefits
- Savings Fitness: A Guide To Your Money and Your Financial Future (PDF) - Provides information on setting goals and putting retirement high on the list of priorities.
- A Look at 401(K) Fees for Employers - A brochure providing an overview of 401(K) fees.
- Understanding Retirement Plan Fees and Expenses - This booklet will help you better understand and evaluate plan fees and expenses. While the focus is on fees and expenses involved with 401(k) plans, many of the principles discussed in the booklet also will have application to all types of retirement plans.
For Small Businesses:
- Simplified Employee Pensions: What Small Businesses Need to Know
- SIMPLE IRA Plans for Small Businesses (PDF) - This booklet explains the SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers) IRA Plan. SIMPLE IRAs provide employers and their employees with a simplified way to contribute toward retirement.
- Choosing A Retirement Solution for Your Small Business (PDF) - A pamphlet describing the retirement savings options available to small businesses.
- 401(k) Plans For Small Businesses - This booklet highlights some of a 401(k) plan's advantages, some of the options and responsibilities of an employer operating a 401(k), and the differences among the types of 401(k) plans.
- Cash Balance Pension Plans - Provides general information on cash balance pension plans.
- QDROs...The Division of Pensions Through Qualified Domestic Relations Orders - QDROs are generally qualified domestic relations orders that create or recognize the existence of an alternate payee's right to receive, or assign to an alternate payee the right to receive, all or a portion of benefits payable with respect to a participant under a pension plan.
- Benefit Rights for Reservists Being Called to Active Duty
- EBSA's Orphan Plan Project - Describes an enforcement project to locate pension plans, particularly 401(k) plans, which have been abandoned by fiduciaries through death, neglect, bankruptcy, or incarceration and to determine if a fiduciary could be located.
- Your Employer's Bankruptcy: How Will it Affect Your Employee Benefits? - Provides information on bankruptcy’s effect on pension plans and group health plans.
- Pension and Health Care Coverage: Questions and Answers for Dislocated Workers
- Frequently Asked Questions about EFAST - A computerized processing system that simplifies and expedites the receipt and processing of the Form 5500 and Form 5500-EZ.
- Reporting and Disclosure Guide for Employee Benefit Plans - A quick reference tool for certain basic reporting and disclosure requirements under ERISA.
- elaws Small Business Retirement Savings Advisor - Provides information to help small business owners understand their retirement savings options and determine which program is most appropriate for their needs.
- 401(k) Plan Fees Disclosure Tool
- Using the ERISA Filing Acceptance System (EFAST) - EFAST is a system designed to simplify and expedite the receipt and processing of the Forms 5500 and 5500-EZ.
- Forms, Instructions and Publications - Describes the annual reporting requirements under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.
- Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) - Sets uniform minimum standards to ensure that employee benefit plans are established and maintained in a fair and financially sound manner. In addition, employers have an obligation to provide promised benefits and satisfy ERISA's requirements for managing and administering private pension and welfare plans.
- 29 CFR Parts 2509 to 2590 - EBSA (formerly known as the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration) regulations, including interpretive bulletins related to ERISA (29 CFR Part 2509).
- How to Obtain Employee Benefit Plan Documents from the U.S. Department of Labor
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - Provides information about the tax provisions in the Internal Revenue Code relating to pension plans.
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) - Provides information about traditional plans that promise workers a specific monthly benefit at retirement, known as defined benefit plans.
- Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Tel: 1-866-444-EBSA (3272)
- For questions on other DOL laws,
please call DOL's Toll-Free Help Line at 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365). Live assistance is available in English and Spanish, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Additional service is available in more than 140 languages through a translation service.
Tel: 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365)
*Pursuant to the U.S. Department of Labor's Confidentiality Protocol for Compliance Assistance Inquiries, information provided by a telephone caller will be kept confidential within the bounds of the law. Compliance assistance inquiries will not trigger an inspection, audit, investigation, etc.