Definition of "Forty-five year rule"

One of three ways vesting must occur in a pension plan under the employee retirement income security act of 1974 (ERISA). An employee is entitled to 50% of his or her benefits after 10 years of employment, or when the total years of service (at least 5) and the employee's age equal 45, whichever is the earlier achieved. After that, the employee is credited with 10% for each year of service for the next 5 years, whereupon 100% vesting is achieved. Under the TAX REFORM ACT OF 1986, this vesting rule will no longer be in effect for plan years after December 31,1988.

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