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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Defined Benefit Plan

Term Definition Defined Benefit Plan - generally a retirement annuity, whereby employers set aside benefits for employees, with the employee-spouse entitled to share in the benefits after a vesting period, and payments made a predetermined retirement date for the life of the employee.
Application in Divorce This is the old-fashioned company pension and it is vanishing from the American corporate world. At one time, the company pension, Social Security and private savings stood like the three legs on a stool that many Americans imagined would give them a reasonable measure of security in what they once called the "golden years."

In these plans, the employee makes no contribution to his pension and there is no separate account in his or her name. After a period of employment, he or she is vested in the plan and upon retirement he or she is paid a fixed sum for the remainder of his or her life (and the life of a surviving spouse, if such benefits are elected).

These plans create large legacy costs for older companies. For this reason, the company pension now goes the way of trolley cars and afternoon newspapers.

A defined benefit plan is marital property.

See also ERISA and Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

See Defined Contribution Plan.

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