Retirement program to provide employees (and often, spouses) with a monthly income payment for the rest of their lives. To qualify, an employee must have met minimum age and service requirements. Benefit formulas can be either the defined contribution pension (money purchase plan) or the defined benefit plan. The employee retirement income security act of 1974 (ERISA) requires a pension plan to provide an income for the rest of a retired employee's life, and at least 50% of that amount to the surviving spouse of a retired employee for the rest of her life, unless the spouse this right in writing. Death and disability benefits are also provided by most pension plans. The TAX REFORM ACT OF 1986 has changed the VESTING requirements. Funds for these plans can be generated under numerous PENSION PLAN FUNDING INSTRUMENTS.