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What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan


Your employer’s retirement savings plan is an essential part of your future financial security. It is important to understand how your plan works and what benefits you will receive. Just as you would keep track of money that you put in a bank or other financial institution, it is in your best interest to keep track of your retirement benefits.

Those responsible for the management and oversight of your retirement plan must follow certain rules for operating the plan, handling the plan’s money and overseeing the firms that manage the money. You should also understand and monitor your retirement plan and your benefits. You will find Action Items in each chapter to assist you in doing this.

This website helps you understand your plan and explains what information you should review periodically and where to go for help with questions. It includes information on:

  • Different types of retirement plans;

  • What information you can get about your plan;

  • When and how you can receive retirement benefits;

  • What to do if you have a question or find a mistake;

  • The responsibilities of those who manage the plan and its investments;

  • Your responsibilities to understand and monitor your plan; and

  • Specific circumstances such as how a divorce or change of employer ownership may affect your retirement benefit.

Retirement Plans Covered In This Website

This website covers private retirement plans that are governed by Federal laws and guidelines in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code. ERISA is a Federal statute that sets standards for most employer and union sponsored retirement plans in private industry and imposes responsibilities on those running the plan. Participants in these plans have certain rights as well as responsibilities.

The rules discussed in this website do not apply to all retirement plans. For example, the information does not apply to:

  • State and local government plans, including plans covering public school teachers and school administrators;

  • Most church plans; and

  • Plans for Federal government employees.

Also, if you are in a collectively-bargained plan, the rules that apply under ERISA may be different in some cases.

The information contained in this guide answers the most common questions about retirement plans. Keep in mind, however, that this information is a simplified summary of participant rights and responsibilities, not a legal interpretation of ERISA.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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Information is provided for review and consideration only. Please consult legal and tax advisors for practical advice pertaining to your business and personal situations.

This page was last reviewed and/or updated on Friday, July 03, 2015 05:21 PM


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