Definition of "Defined benefit plan"

Sharon Hodnett ® real estate agent

Written by

Sharon Hodnett ®elite badge icon

Keller Williams Realty, Southlake

Retirement plan under which benefits are fixed in advance by formula, and contributions vary. The defined benefit plan can be expressed in either of two ways:

  1. Fixed Dollars: Unit benefit approach a discrete unit of benefit is credited for each year of service recognized by the employer.The unit is either a flat dollar amount or (more often) a percentage of compensation usually 1 1/2-2 1/2%. Total years of service are multiplied by this percentage. For example, if total years of service is 30 and the percentage is VA, 45% would be applied to either the career average earnings or final average earnings (highest three of five consecutive years of earnings). If the average of the highest five consecutive years of earnings is $100,000, the yearly retirement benefit would be $45,000. Level Percentage of Compensation After a minimum number of years of service (usually 20) and a minimum age (usually 50), all employees will receive the same percentage of earnings as a retirement benefit, regardless of income, position in the company, or years of service. For example, each employee who is at least 50 years of age, with at least 20 years of service receives 20% of compensation. This plan is more common than the flat amount approach described below, Flat Amount After having attained a minimum number of years of service (usually 20) and a minimum age (usually 50), all employees will receive the same absolute dollar amount as a retirement benefit, regardless of income, position in the company, or years of service. For example, each employee who is at least 50 years of age, with at least 20 years of service receives $8000 a year in retirement benefits.
  2. Variable Dollars: Cost-of-Living Plan benefits are modified according to changes in a predetermined price index usually, the Consumer Price Index (CPI). For example, when the CPI increases by at least 3% benefits are increased by that percentage, Equity Annuity Plan premiums are paid into a variable annuity plan to purchase accumulation units. At retirement, the accumulation units are converted to retirement units whose values fluctuate according to the common stock portfolio in which the premiums we reinvested.

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