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November 5, 2008    DOL Home > Find It! By Topic > Retirement Plans, Benefits & Savings   

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Retirement Plans, Benefits & Savings

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 Department of Labor is responsible for administering and enforcing these provisions of ERISA. Click on the agency to find out more about the agency's program. 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.

For questions about the tax provisions in the Internal Revenue Code relating to pension plans, please contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

For questions about traditional plans that promise workers a specific monthly benefit at retirement, known as defined benefit plans, please contact the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The PBGC also provides a Pension Search Directory to help reunite people with their missing pensions.

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