Defined Benefit Plans

Defined Benefit Plans

Defined benefit plans provide a fixed, pre-established benefit for employees at retirement. Employees often value the fixed benefit provided by this type of plan. On the employer side, businesses can generally contribute (and therefore deduct) more each year than in defined contribution plans. However, defined benefit plans are often more complex and, thus, more costly to establish and maintain than other types of plans.

If you establish a defined benefit plan, you:

  • Can have other retirement plans
  • Can be a business of any size
  • Need to annually file a Form 5500 with a Schedule B
  • Have an enrolled actuary determine the funding levels and sign the Schedule B
  • Can’t retroactively decrease benefits
  • Substantial benefits can be provided and accrued within a short time – even with early retirement
  • Employers can contribute (and deduct) more than under other retirement plans
  • Plan provides a predictable benefit
  • Vesting can follow a variety of schedules from immediate to spread out over seven years
  • Benefits are not dependent on asset returns
  • Plan can be used to promote certain business strategies by offering subsidized early retirement benefits
  • Most costly type of plan
  • Most administratively complex plan
  • An excise tax applies if the minimum contribution requirement is not satisfied
  • An excise tax applies if excess contributions are made to the plan

Generally, the employer makes most contributions. Sometimes, employee contributions are required or voluntary contributions may be permitted.

Contributions to a defined benefit plan are based on what is needed to provide definitely determinable benefits to plan participants. Actuarial assumptions and computations are required to figure these contributions.

In general, the annual benefit for a participant under a defined benefit plan cannot exceed the lesser of: 

  • 100% of the participant’s average compensation for his or her highest 3 consecutive calendar years, or 
  • $220,000 for 2018 ($215,000 for 2017)

Help to achieve financial security while maximizing your pension benefits.

Pension maximization using life insurance is a way to gain needed death benefit protection while offering you an opportunity to maximize your defined pension benefits. If you are a participant in a traditional pension plan (also referred to as a “defined benefit plan”), you have a plan that is designed to provide you with monthly income payments upon retirement. First however, you must make an irrevocable choice. Typically, your employer will give you two options for how the benefits will be paid – Life Only Benefit or Joint and Survivor Benefit. The Life Only option pays you the maximum benefit, but upon your death, your spouse does not continue to receive payments. The Joint and Survivor option pays a reduced benefit, but your spouse will continue to receive benefits when you die. The pension maximization strategy using life insurance is designed to be a compromise between the two options. It allows you to receive the higher pension benefit while also providing funds for your spouse in the form of a death benefit.

Investment advisory services offered through Allmerits Asset Management, LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Allmerits Asset Management does not provide legal or tax advice. Investment Adviser Representatives of Allmerits Asset Management may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered or exempt from registration requirements. Insurance and Annuity products are sold separately through Allmerits Financial and Insurance Service. Securities transactions for Allmerits Asset Management clients are through Trust Company of America, TD Ameritrade, Nationwide, John Hancock and American Funds.