U.S Code last checked for updates: Jan 04, 2022
§ 411.
Minimum vesting standards
(a)
General rule
A trust shall not constitute a qualified trust under section 401(a) unless the plan of which such trust is a part provides that an employee’s right to his normal retirement benefit is nonforfeitable upon the attainment of normal retirement age (as defined in paragraph (8)) and in addition satisfies the requirements of paragraphs (1), (2), and (11) of this subsection and the requirements of subsection (b)(3), and also satisfies, in the case of a defined benefit plan, the requirements of subsection (b)(1) and, in the case of a defined contribution plan, the requirements of subsection (b)(2).
(1)
Employee contributions

A plan satisfies the requirements of this paragraph if an employee’s rights in his accrued benefit derived from his own contributions are nonforfeitable.

(2)
Employer contributions
(A)
Defined benefit plans
(i)
In general

In the case of a defined benefit plan, a plan satisfies the requirements of this paragraph if it satisfies the requirements of clause (ii) or (iii).

(ii)
5-year vesting

A plan satisfies the requirements of this clause if an employee who has completed at least 5 years of service has a nonforfeitable right to 100 percent of the employee’s accrued benefit derived from employer contributions.

(iii)
3 to 7 year vesting

A plan satisfies the requirements of this clause if an employee has a nonforfeitable right to a percentage of the employee’s accrued benefit derived from employer contributions determined under the following table:

   Years of service:

The nonforfeitable percentage is:

3

20  

4

(B)
Defined contribution plans
(i)
In general

In the case of a defined contribution plan, a plan satisfies the requirements of this paragraph if it satisfies the requirements of clause (ii) or (iii).

(ii)
3-year vesting

A plan satisfies the requirements of this clause if an employee who has completed at least 3 years of service has a nonforfeitable right to 100 percent of the employee’s accrued benefit derived from employer contributions.

(iii)
2 to 6 year vesting

A plan satisfies the requirements of this clause if an employee has a nonforfeitable right to a percentage of the employee’s accrued benefit derived from employer contributions determined under the following table:

   Years of service:

The nonforfeitable percentage is:

2

20  

3

40  

4

60  

5

80  

6 or more

100.

(3)
Certain permitted forfeitures, suspensions, etc.
For purposes of this subsection—
(A)
Forfeiture on account of death

A right to an accrued benefit derived from employer contributions shall not be treated as forfeitable solely because the plan provides that it is not payable if the participant dies (except in the case of a survivor annuity which is payable as provided in section 401(a)(11)).

(B)
Suspension of benefits upon reemployment of retiree
A right to an accrued benefit derived from employer contributions shall not be treated as forfeitable solely because the plan provides that the payment of benefits is suspended for such period as the employee is employed, subsequent to the commencement of payment of such benefits—
(i)
in the case of a plan other than a multi-employer plan, by the employer who maintains the plan under which such benefits were being paid; and
(ii)
in the case of a multiemployer plan, in the same industry, the same trade or craft, and the same geographic area covered by the plan as when such benefits commenced.
The Secretary of Labor shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this subparagraph, including regulations with respect to the meaning of the term “employed”.
(C)
Effect of retroactive plan amendments

A right to an accrued benefit derived from employer contributions shall not be treated as forfeitable solely because plan amendments may be given retroactive application as provided in section 412(d)(2).

(D)
Withdrawal of mandatory contribution
(i)
A right to an accrued benefit derived from employer contributions shall not be treated as forfeitable solely because the plan provides that, in the case of a participant who does not have a nonforfeitable right to at least 50 percent of his accrued benefit derived from employer contributions, such accrued benefit may be forfeited on account of the withdrawal by the participant of any amount attributable to the benefit derived from mandatory contributions (as defined in subsection (c)(2)(C)) made by such participant.
(ii)
Clause (i) shall not apply to a plan unless the plan provides that any accrued benefit forfeited under a plan provision described in such clause shall be restored upon repayment by the participant of the full amount of the withdrawal described in such clause plus, in the case of a defined benefit plan, interest. Such interest shall be computed on such amount at the rate determined for purposes of subsection (c)(2)(C) on the date of such repayment (computed annually from the date of such withdrawal). The plan provision required under this clause may provide that such repayment must be made (I) in the case of a withdrawal on account of separation from service, before the earlier of 5 years after the first date on which the participant is subsequently re-employed by the employer, or the close of the first period of 5 consecutive 1-year breaks in service commencing after the withdrawal; or (II) in the case of any other withdrawal, 5 years after the date of the withdrawal.
(iii)
In the case of accrued benefits derived from employer contributions which accrued before September 2, 1974, a right to such accrued benefit derived from employer contributions shall not be treated as forfeitable solely because the plan provides that an amount of such accrued benefit may be forfeited on account of the withdrawal by the participant of an amount attributable to the benefit derived from mandatory contributions (as defined in subsection (c)(2)(C)) made by such participant before September 2, 1974 if such amount forfeited is proportional to such amount withdrawn. This clause shall not apply to any plan to which any mandatory contribution is made after September 2, 1974. The Secretary shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this clause.
(iv)
For purposes of this subparagraph, in the case of any class-year plan, a withdrawal of employee contributions shall be treated as a withdrawal of such contributions on a plan year by plan year basis in succeeding order of time.
(v)
For nonforfeitability where the employee has a nonforfeitable right to at least 50 percent of his accrued benefit, see section 401(a)(19).
(E)
Cessation of contributions under a multiemployer plan

A right to an accrued benefit derived from employer contributions under a multiemployer plan shall not be treated as forfeitable solely because the plan provides that benefits accrued as a result of service with the participant’s employer before the employer had an obligation to contribute under the plan may not be payable if the employer ceases contributions to the multi­employer plan.

(F)
Reduction and suspension of benefits by a multiemployer plan
A participant’s right to an accrued benefit derived from employer contributions under a multiemployer plan shall not be treated as forfeitable solely because—
(i)
the plan is amended to reduce benefits under section 4281 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or
(ii)
benefit payments under the plan may be suspended under section 418E or under section 4281 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
(G)
Treatment of matching contributions forfeited by reason of excess deferral or contribution or permissible withdrawal

A matching contribution (within the meaning of section 401(m)) shall not be treated as forfeitable merely because such contribution is forfeitable if the contribution to which the matching contribution relates is treated as an excess contribution under section 401(k)(8)(B), an excess deferral under section 402(g)(2)(A), a permissible withdrawal under section 414(w), or an excess aggregate contribution under section 401(m)(6)(B).

(4)
Service included in determination of nonforfeitable percentage
In computing the period of service under the plan for purposes of determining the nonforfeitable percentage under paragraph (2), all of an employee’s years of service with the employer or employers maintaining the plan shall be taken into account, except that the following may be disregarded:
(A)
years of service before age 18;
(B)
years of service during a period for which the employee declined to contribute to a plan requiring employee contributions;
(C)
years of service with an employer during any period for which the employer did not maintain the plan or a predecessor plan (as defined under regulations prescribed by the Secretary);
(D)
service not required to be taken into account under paragraph (6);
(E)
years of service before January 1, 1971, unless the employee has had at least 3 years of service after December 31, 1970;
(F)
years of service before the first plan year to which this section applies, if such service would have been disregarded under the rules of the plan with regard to breaks in service as in effect on the applicable date; and
(G)
in the case of a multiemployer plan, years of service—
(i)
with an employer after—
(I)
a complete withdrawal of that employer from the plan (within the meaning of section 4203 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974), or
(II)
to the extent permitted in regulations prescribed by the Secretary, a partial withdrawal described in section 4205(b)(2)(A)(i) of such Act in conjunction with the decertification of the collective bargaining representative, and
(ii)
with any employer under the plan after the termination date of the plan under section 4048 of such Act.
(5)
Year of service
(A)
General rule

For purposes of this subsection, except as provided in subparagraph (C), the term “year of service” means a calendar year, plan year, or other 12-consecutive month period designated by the plan (and not prohibited under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Labor) during which the participant has completed 1,000 hours of service.

(B)
Hours of service

For purposes of this subsection, the term “hours of service” has the meaning provided by section 410(a)(3)(C).

(C)
Seasonal industries

In the case of any seasonal industry where the customary period of employment is less than 1,000 hours during a calendar year, the term “year of service” shall be such period as may be determined under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Labor.

(D)
Maritime industries

For purposes of this subsection, in the case of any maritime industry, 125 days of service shall be treated as 1,000 hours of service. The Secretary of Labor may prescribe regulations to carry out the purposes of this subparagraph.

(6)
Breaks in service
(A)
Definition of 1-year break in service

For purposes of this paragraph, the term “1-year break in service” means a calendar year, plan year, or other 12-consecutive-month period designated by the plan (and not prohibited under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Labor) during which the participant has not completed more than 500 hours of service.

(B)
1 year of service after 1-year break in service

For purposes of paragraph (4), in the case of any employee who has any 1-year break in service, years of service before such break shall not be required to be taken into account until he has completed a year of service after his return.

(C)
5 consecutive 1-year breaks in service under defined contribution plan

For purposes of paragraph (4), in the case of any participant in a defined contribution plan, or an insured defined benefit plan which satisfies the requirements of subsection (b)(1)(F), who has 5 consecutive 1-year breaks in service, years of service after such 5-year period shall not be required to be taken into account for purposes of determining the nonforfeitable percentage of his accrued benefit derived from employer contributions which accrued before such 5-year period.

(D)
Nonvested participants
(i)
In general
For purposes of paragraph (4), in the case of a nonvested participant, years of service with the employer or employers maintaining the plan before any period of consecutive 1-year breaks in service shall not be required to be taken into account if the number of consecutive 1-year breaks in service within such period equals or exceeds the greater of—
(I)
5, or
(II)
the aggregate number of years of service before such period.
(ii)
Years of service not taken into account

If any years of service are not required to be taken into account by reason of a period of breaks in service to which clause (i) applies, such years of service shall not be taken into account in applying clause (i) to a subsequent period of breaks in service.

(iii)
Nonvested participant defined

For purposes of clause (i), the term “nonvested participant” means a participant who does not have any nonforfeitable right under the plan to an accrued benefit derived from employer contributions.

(E)
Special rule for maternity or paternity absences
(i)
General rule
In the case of each individual who is absent from work for any period—
(I)
by reason of the pregnancy of the individual,
(II)
by reason of the birth of a child of the individual,
(III)
by reason of the placement of a child with the individual in connection with the adoption of such child by such individual, or
(IV)
for purposes of caring for such child for a period beginning immediately following such birth or placement,
 the plan shall treat as hours of service, solely for purposes of determining under this paragraph whether a 1-year break in service has occurred, the hours described in clause (ii).
(ii)
Hours treated as hours of service
The hours described in this clause are—
(I)
the hours of service which otherwise would normally have been credited to such individual but for such absence, or
(II)
in any case in which the plan is unable to determine the hours described in subclause (I), 8 hours of service per day of absence,
 except that the total number of hours treated as hours of service under this clause by reason of any such pregnancy or placement shall not exceed 501 hours.
(iii)
Year to which hours are credited
The hours described in clause (ii) shall be treated as hours of service as provided in this subparagraph—
(I)
only in the year in which the absence from work begins, if a participant would be prevented from incurring a 1-year break in service in such year solely because the period of absence is treated as hours of service as provided in clause (i); or
(II)
in any other case, in the immediately following year.
(iv)
Year defined

For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “year” means the period used in computations pursuant to paragraph (5).

(v)
Information required to be filed
A plan shall not fail to satisfy the requirements of this subparagraph solely because it provides that no credit will be given pursuant to this subparagraph unless the individual furnishes to the plan administrator such timely information as the plan may reasonably require to establish—
(I)
that the absence from work is for reasons referred to in clause (i), and
(II)
the number of days for which there was such an absence.
(7)
Accrued benefit
(A)
In general
For purposes of this section, the term “accrued benefit” means—
(i)
in the case of a defined benefit plan, the employee’s accrued benefit determined under the plan and, except as provided in subsection (c)(3), expressed in the form of an annual benefit commencing at normal retirement age, or
(ii)
in the case of a plan which is not a defined benefit plan, the balance of the employee’s account.
(B)
Effect of certain distributions
Notwithstanding paragraph (4), for purposes of determining the employee’s accrued benefit under the plan, the plan may disregard service performed by the employee with respect to which he has received—
(i)
a distribution of the present value of his entire nonforfeitable benefit if such distribution was in an amount (not more than the dollar limit under section 411(a)(11)(A)) permitted under regulations prescribed by the Secretary, or
(ii)
a distribution of the present value of his nonforfeitable benefit attributable to such service which he elected to receive.
Clause (i) of this subparagraph shall apply only if such distribution was made on termination of the employee’s participation in the plan. Clause (ii) of this subparagraph shall apply only if such distribution was made on termination of the employee’s participation in the plan or under such other circumstances as may be provided under regulations prescribed by the Secretary.
(C)
Repayment of subparagraph (B) distributions
For purposes of determining the employee’s accrued benefit under a plan, the plan may not disregard service as provided in subparagraph (B) unless the plan provides an opportunity for the participant to repay the full amount of the distribution described in such subparagraph (B) with, in the case of a defined benefit plan, interest at the rate determined for purposes of subsection (c)(2)(C) and provides that upon such repayment the employee’s accrued benefit shall be recomputed by taking into account service so disregarded. This subparagraph shall apply only in the case of a participant who—
(i)
received such a distribution in any plan year to which this section applies, which distribution was less than the present value of his accrued benefit,
(ii)
resumes employment covered under the plan, and
(iii)
repays the full amount of such distribution with, in the case of a defined benefit plan, interest at the rate determined for purposes of subsection (c)(2)(C).
The plan provision required under this subparagraph may provide that such repayment must be made (I) in the case of a withdrawal on account of separation from service, before the earlier of 5 years after the first date on which the participant is subsequently re-employed by the employer, or the close of the first period of 5 consecutive 1-year breaks in service commencing after the withdrawal; or (II) in the case of any other withdrawal, 5 years after the date of the withdrawal.
(D)
Accrued benefit attributable to employee contributions

The accrued benefit of an employee shall not be less than the amount determined under subsection (c)(2)(B) with respect to the employee’s accumulated contributions.

(8)
Normal retirement age
For purposes of this section, the term “normal retirement age” means the earlier of—
(A)
the time a plan participant attains normal retirement age under the plan, or
(B)
the later of—
(i)
the time a plan participant attains age 65, or
(ii)
the 5th anniversary of the time a plan participant commenced participation in the plan.
(9)
Normal retirement benefit
For purposes of this section, the term “normal retirement benefit” means the greater of the early retirement benefit under the plan, or the benefit under the plan commencing at normal retirement age. The normal retirement benefit shall be determined without regard to—
(A)
medical benefits, and
(B)
disability benefits not in excess of the qualified disability benefit.
For purposes of this paragraph, a qualified disability benefit is a disability benefit provided by a plan which does not exceed the benefit which would be provided for the participant if he separated from the service at normal retirement age. For purposes of this paragraph, the early retirement benefit under a plan shall be determined without regard to any benefits commencing before benefits payable under title II of the Social Security Act become payable which—
(i)
do not exceed such social security benefits, and
(ii)
terminate when such social security benefits commence.
(10)
Changes in vesting schedule
(A)
General rule

A plan amendment changing any vesting schedule under the plan shall be treated as not satisfying the requirements of paragraph (2) if the nonforfeitable percentage of the accrued benefit derived from employer contributions (determined as of the later of the date such amendment is adopted, or the date such amendment becomes effective) of any employee who is a participant in the plan is less than such nonforfeitable percentage computed under the plan without regard to such amendment.

(B)
Election of former schedule

A plan amendment changing any vesting schedule under the plan shall be treated as not satisfying the requirements of paragraph (2) unless each participant having not less than 3 years of service is permitted to elect, within a reasonable period after the adoption of such amendment, to have his nonforfeitable percentage computed under the plan without regard to such amendment.

(11)
Restrictions on certain mandatory distributions
(A)
In general

If the present value of any nonforfeitable accrued benefit exceeds $5,000, a plan meets the requirements of this paragraph only if such plan provides that such benefit may not be immediately distributed without the consent of the participant.

(B)
Determination of present value

For purposes of subparagraph (A), the present value shall be calculated in accordance with section 417(e)(3).

(C)
Dividend distributions of ESOPS arrangement

This paragraph shall not apply to any distribution of dividends to which section 404(k) applies.

(D)
Special rule for rollover contributions

A plan shall not fail to meet the requirements of this paragraph if, under the terms of the plan, the present value of the nonforfeitable accrued benefit is determined without regard to that portion of such benefit which is attributable to rollover contributions (and earnings allocable thereto). For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “rollover contributions” means any rollover contribution under sections 402(c), 403(a)(4), 403(b)(8), 408(d)(3)(A)(ii), and 457(e)(16).

[(12)
Repealed. Pub. L. 109–280, title IX, § 904(a)(2), Aug. 17, 2006, 120 Stat. 1049]
(13)
Special rules for plans computing accrued benefits by reference to hypothetical account balance or equivalent amounts
(A)
In general
An applicable defined benefit plan shall not be treated as failing to meet—
(i)
subject to subparagraph (B), the requirements of subsection (a)(2), or
(ii)
the requirements of subsection (a)(11) or (c), or the requirements of section 417(e), with respect to accrued benefits derived from employer contributions,
solely because the present value of the accrued benefit (or any portion thereof) of any participant is, under the terms of the plan, equal to the amount expressed as the balance in the hypothetical account described in subparagraph (C) or as an accumulated percentage of the participant’s final average compensation.
(B)
3-year vesting

In the case of an applicable defined benefit plan, such plan shall be treated as meeting the requirements of subsection (a)(2) only if an employee who has completed at least 3 years of service has a nonforfeitable right to 100 percent of the employee’s accrued benefit derived from employer contributions.

(C)
Applicable defined benefit plan and related rules
For purposes of this subsection—
(i)
In general

The term “applicable defined benefit plan” means a defined benefit plan under which the accrued benefit (or any portion thereof) is calculated as the balance of a hypothetical account maintained for the participant or as an accumulated percentage of the participant’s final average compensation.

(ii)
Regulations to include similar plans

The Secretary shall issue regulations which include in the definition of an applicable defined benefit plan any defined benefit plan (or any portion of such a plan) which has an effect similar to an applicable defined benefit plan.

(b)
Accrued benefit requirements
(1)
Defined benefit plans
(A)
3-percent method
A defined benefit plan satisfies the requirements of this paragraph if the accrued benefit to which each participant is entitled upon his separation from the service is not less than—
(i)
3 percent of the normal retirement benefit to which he would be entitled if he commenced participation at the earliest possible entry age under the plan and served continuously until the earlier of age 65 or the normal retirement age specified under the plan, multiplied by
(ii)
the number of years (not in excess of 33⅓) of his participation in the plan.
In the case of a plan providing retirement benefits based on compensation during any period, the normal retirement benefit to which a participant would be entitled shall be determined as if he continued to earn annually the average rate of compensation which he earned during consecutive years of service, not in excess of 10, for which his compensation was the highest. For purposes of this subparagraph, social security benefits and all other relevant factors used to compute benefits shall be treated as remaining constant as of the current year for all years after such current year.
(B)
133⅓ percent rule
A defined benefit plan satisfies the requirements of this paragraph for a particular plan year if under the plan the accrued benefit payable at the normal retirement age is equal to the normal retirement benefit and the annual rate at which any individual who is or could be a participant can accrue the retirement benefits payable at normal retirement age under the plan for any later plan year is not more than 133⅓ percent of the annual rate at which he can accrue benefits for any plan year beginning on or after such particular plan year and before such later plan year. For purposes of this subparagraph—
(i)
any amendment to the plan which is in effect for the current year shall be treated as in effect for all other plan years;
(ii)
any change in an accrual rate which does not apply to any individual who is or could be a participant in the current year shall be disregarded;
(iii)
the fact that benefits under the plan may be payable to certain employees before normal retirement age shall be disregarded; and
(iv)
social security benefits and all other relevant factors used to compute benefits shall be treated as remaining constant as of the current year for all years after the current year.
(C)
Fractional rule

A defined benefits plan satisfies the requirements of this paragraph if the accrued benefit to which any participant is entitled upon his separation from the service is not less than a fraction of the annual benefit commencing at normal retirement age to which he would be entitled under the plan as in effect on the date of his separation if he continued to earn annually until normal retirement age the same rate of compensation upon which his normal retirement benefit would be computed under the plan, determined as if he had attained normal retirement age on the date on which any such determination is made (but taking into account no more than the 10 years of service immediately preceding his separation from service). Such fraction shall be a fraction, not exceeding 1, the numerator of which is the total number of his years of participation in the plan (as of the date of his separation from the service) and the denominator of which is the total number of years he would have participated in the plan if he separated from the service at the normal retirement age. For purposes of this subparagraph, social security benefits and all other relevant factors used to compute benefits shall be treated as remaining constant as of the current year for all years after such current year.

(D)
Accrual for service before effective date
Subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) shall not apply with respect to years of participation before the first plan year to which this section applies, but a defined benefit plan satisfies the requirements of this subparagraph with respect to such years of participation only if the accrued benefit of any participant with respect to such years of participation is not less than the greater of—
(i)
his accrued benefit determined under the plan, as in effect from time to time prior to September 2, 1974, or
(ii)
an accrued benefit which is not less than one-half of the accrued benefit to which such participant would have been entitled if subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) applied with respect to such years of participation.
(E)
First two years of service

Notwithstanding subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) of this paragraph, a plan shall not be treated as not satisfying the requirements of this paragraph solely because the accrual of benefits under the plan does not become effective until the employee has two continuous years of service. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “years of service” has the meaning provided by section 410(a)(3)(A).

(F)
Certain insured defined benefit plans
Notwithstanding subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C), a defined benefit plan satisfies the requirements of this paragraph if such plan—
(i)
is funded exclusively by the purchase of insurance contracts, and
(ii)
satisfies the requirements of subparagraphs (B) and (C) of section 412(e)(3) (relating to certain insurance contract plans),
but only if an employee’s accrued benefit as of any applicable date is not less than the cash surrender value his insurance contracts would have on such applicable date if the requirements of subparagraphs (D), (E), and (F) of section 412(e)(3) were satisfied.
(G)
Accrued benefit may not decrease on account of increasing age or service
Notwithstanding the preceding subparagraphs, a defined benefit plan shall be treated as not satisfying the requirements of this paragraph if the participant’s accrued benefit is reduced on account of any increase in his age or service. The preceding sentence shall not apply to benefits under the plan commencing before entitlement to benefits payable under title II of the Social Security Act which benefits under the plan—
(i)
do not exceed such social security benefits, and
(ii)
terminate when such social security benefits commence.
(H)
Continued accrual beyond normal retirement age
(i)
In general

Notwithstanding the preceding subparagraphs, a defined benefit plan shall be treated as not satisfying the requirements of this paragraph if, under the plan, an employee’s benefit accrual is ceased, or the rate of an employee’s benefit accrual is reduced, because of the attainment of any age.

(ii)
Certain limitations permitted

A plan shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of this subparagraph solely because the plan imposes (without regard to age) a limitation on the amount of benefits that the plan provides or a limitation on the number of years of service or years of participation which are taken into account for purposes of determining benefit accrual under the plan.

(iii)
Adjustments under plan for delayed retirement taken into account
In the case of any employee who, as of the end of any plan year under a defined benefit plan, has attained normal retirement age under such plan—
(I)
if distribution of benefits under such plan with respect to such employee has commenced as of the end of such plan year, then any requirement of this subparagraph for continued accrual of benefits under such plan with respect to such employee during such plan year shall be treated as satisfied to the extent of the actuarial equivalent of inservice distribution of benefits, and
(II)
if distribution of benefits under such plan with respect to such employee has not commenced as of the end of such year in accordance with section 401(a)(14)(C), and the payment of benefits under such plan with respect to such employee is not suspended during such plan year pursuant to subsection (a)(3)(B), then any requirement of this subparagraph for continued accrual of benefits under such plan with respect to such employee during such plan year shall be treated as satisfied to the extent of any adjustment in the benefit payable under the plan during such plan year attributable to the delay in the distribution of benefits after the attainment of normal retirement age.
 The preceding provisions of this clause shall apply in accordance with regulations of the Secretary. Such regulations may provide for the application of the preceding provisions of this clause, in the case of any such employee, with respect to any period of time within a plan year.
(iv)
Disregard of subsidized portion of early retirement benefit

A plan shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of clause (i) solely because the subsidized portion of any early retirement benefit is disregarded in determining benefit accruals.

(v)
Coordination with other requirements

The Secretary shall provide by regulation for the coordination of the requirements of this subparagraph with the requirements of subsection (a), sections 404, 410, and 415, and the provisions of this subchapter precluding discrimination in favor of highly compensated employees.

(2)
Defined contribution plans
(A)
In general

A defined contribution plan satisfies the requirements of this paragraph if, under the plan, allocations to the employee’s account are not ceased, and the rate at which amounts are allocated to the employee’s account is not reduced, because of the attainment of any age.

(B)
Application to target benefit plans

The Secretary shall provide by regulation for the application of the requirements of this paragraph to target benefit plans.

(C)
Coordination with other requirements

The Secretary may provide by regulation for the coordination of the requirements of this paragraph with the requirements of subsection (a), sections 404, 410, and 415, and the provisions of this subchapter precluding discrimination in favor of highly compensated employees.

(3)
Separate accounting required in certain cases
A plan satisfies the requirements of this paragraph if—
(A)
in the case of the defined benefit plan, the plan requires separate accounting for the portion of each employee’s accrued benefit derived from any voluntary employee contributions permitted under the plan; and
(B)
in the case of any plan which is not a defined benefit plan, the plan requires separate accounting for each employee’s accrued benefit.
(4)
Year of participation
(A)
Definition

For purposes of determining an employee’s accrued benefit, the term “year of participation” means a period of service (beginning at the earliest date on which the employee is a participant in the plan and which is included in a period of service required to be taken into account under section 410(a)(5), determined without regard to section 410(a)(5)(E)) as determined under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Labor which provide for the calculation of such period on any reasonable and consistent basis.

(B)
Less than full time service

For purposes of this paragraph, except as provided in subparagraph (C), in the case of any employee whose customary employment is less than full time, the calculation of such employee’s service on any basis which provides less than a ratable portion of the accrued benefit to which he would be entitled under the plan if his customary employment were full time shall not be treated as made on a reasonable and consistent basis.

(C)
Less than 1,000 hours of service during year

For purposes of this paragraph, in the case of any employee whose service is less than 1,000 hours during any calendar year, plan year or other 12-consecutive month period designated by the plan (and not prohibited under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Labor) the calculation of his period of service shall not be treated as not made on a reasonable and consistent basis solely because such service is not taken into account.

(D)
Seasonal industries

In the case of any seasonal industry where the customary period of employment is less than 1,000 hours during a calendar year, the term “year of participation” shall be such period as determined under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Labor.

(E)
Maritime industries

For purposes of this subsection, in the case of any maritime industry, 125 days of service shall be treated as a year of participation. The Secretary of Labor may prescribe regulations to carry out the purposes of this subparagraph.

(5)
Special rules relating to age
(A)
Comparison to similarly situated younger individual
(i)
In general

A plan shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of paragraph (1)(H)(i) if a participant’s accrued benefit, as determined as of any date under the terms of the plan, would be equal to or greater than that of any similarly situated, younger individual who is or could be a participant.

(ii)
Similarly situated

For purposes of this subparagraph, a participant is similarly situated to any other individual if such participant is identical to such other individual in every respect (including period of service, compensation, position, date of hire, work history, and any other respect) except for age.

(iii)
Disregard of subsidized early retirement benefits

In determining the accrued benefit as of any date for purposes of this subparagraph, the subsidized portion of any early retirement benefit or retirement-type subsidy shall be disregarded.

(iv)
Accrued benefit

For purposes of this subparagraph, the accrued benefit may, under the terms of the plan, be expressed as an annuity payable at normal retirement age, the balance of a hypothetical account, or the current value of the accumulated percentage of the employee’s final average compensation.

(B)
Applicable defined benefit plans
(i)
Interest credits
(I)
In general

An applicable defined benefit plan shall be treated as failing to meet the requirements of paragraph (1)(H) unless the terms of the plan provide that any interest credit (or an equivalent amount) for any plan year shall be at a rate which is not greater than a market rate of return. A plan shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of this subclause merely because the plan provides for a reasonable minimum guaranteed rate of return or for a rate of return that is equal to the greater of a fixed or variable rate of return.

(II)
Preservation of capital

An applicable defined benefit plan shall be treated as failing to meet the requirements of paragraph (1)(H) unless the plan provides that an interest credit (or equivalent amount) of less than zero shall in no event result in the account balance or similar amount being less than the aggregate amount of contributions credited to the account.

(III)
Market rate of return

The Secretary may provide by regulation for rules governing the calculation of a market rate of return for purposes of subclause (I) and for permissible methods of crediting interest to the account (including fixed or variable interest rates) resulting in effective rates of return meeting the requirements of subclause (I).

(ii)
Special rule for plan conversions

If, after June 29, 2005, an applicable plan amendment is adopted, the plan shall be treated as failing to meet the requirements of paragraph (1)(H) unless the requirements of clause (iii) are met with respect to each individual who was a participant in the plan immediately before the adoption of the amendment.

(iii)
Rate of benefit accrual
Subject to clause (iv), the requirements of this clause are met with respect to any participant if the accrued benefit of the participant under the terms of the plan as in effect after the amendment is not less than the sum of—
(I)
the participant’s accrued benefit for years of service before the effective date of the amendment, determined under the terms of the plan as in effect before the amendment, plus
(II)
the participant’s accrued benefit for years of service after the effective date of the amendment, determined under the terms of the plan as in effect after the amendment.
(iv)
Special rules for early retirement subsidies

For purposes of clause (iii)(I), the plan shall credit the accumulation account or similar amount 1

1
 So in original. Probably should be “similar account”.
with the amount of any early retirement benefit or retirement-type subsidy for the plan year in which the participant retires if, as of such time, the participant has met the age, years of service, and other requirements under the plan for entitlement to such benefit or subsidy.

(v)
Applicable plan amendment
For purposes of this subparagraph—
(I)
In general

The term “applicable plan amendment” means an amendment to a defined benefit plan which has the effect of converting the plan to an applicable defined benefit plan.

(II)
Special rule for coordinated benefits

If the benefits of 2 or more defined benefit plans established or maintained by an employer are coordinated in such a manner as to have the effect of the adoption of an amendment described in subclause (I), the sponsor of the defined benefit plan or plans providing for such coordination shall be treated as having adopted such a plan amendment as of the date such coordination begins.

(III)
Multiple amendments

The Secretary shall issue regulations to prevent the avoidance of the purposes of this subparagraph through the use of 2 or more plan amendments rather than a single amendment.

(IV)
Applicable defined benefit plan

For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “applicable defined benefit plan” has the meaning given such term by section 411(a)(13).

(vi)
Termination requirements
An applicable defined benefit plan shall not be treated as meeting the requirements of clause (i) unless the plan provides that, upon the termination of the plan—
(I)
if the interest credit rate (or an equivalent amount) under the plan is a variable rate, the rate of interest used to determine accrued benefits under the plan shall be equal to the average of the rates of interest used under the plan during the 5-year period ending on the termination date, and
(II)
the interest rate and mortality table used to determine the amount of any benefit under the plan payable in the form of an annuity payable at normal retirement age shall be the rate and table specified under the plan for such purpose as of the termination date, except that if such interest rate is a variable rate, the interest rate shall be determined under the rules of subclause (I).
(C)
Certain offsets permitted

A plan shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of paragraph (1)(H)(i) solely because the plan provides offsets against benefits under the plan to the extent such offsets are otherwise allowable in applying the requirements of section 401(a).

(D)
Permitted disparities in plan contributions or benefits

A plan shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of paragraph (1)(H) solely because the plan provides a disparity in contributions or benefits with respect to which the requirements of section 401(l) are met.

(E)
Indexing permitted
(i)
In general

A plan shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of paragraph (1)(H) solely because the plan provides for indexing of accrued benefits under the plan.

(ii)
Protection against loss

Except in the case of any benefit provided in the form of a variable annuity, clause (i) shall not apply with respect to any indexing which results in an accrued benefit less than the accrued benefit determined without regard to such indexing.

(iii)
Indexing

For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “indexing” means, in connection with an accrued benefit, the periodic adjustment of the accrued benefit by means of the application of a recognized investment index or methodology.

(F)
Early retirement benefit or retirement-type subsidy

For purposes of this paragraph, the terms “early retirement benefit” and “retirement-type subsidy” have the meaning given such terms in subsection (d)(6)(B)(i).

(G)
Benefit accrued to date

For purposes of this paragraph, any reference to the accrued benefit shall be a reference to such benefit accrued to date.

(c)
Allocation of accrued benefits between employer and employee contributions
(1)
Accrued benefit derived from employer contributions

For purposes of this section, an employee’s accrued benefit derived from employer contributions as of any applicable date is the excess, if any, of the accrued benefit for such employee as of such applicable date over the accrued benefit derived from contributions made by such employee as of such date.

(2)
Accrued benefit derived from employee contributions
(A)
Plans other than defined benefit plans
In the case of a plan other than a defined benefit plan, the accrued benefit derived from contributions made by an employee as of any applicable date is—
(i)
except as provided in clause (ii), the balance of the employee’s separate account consisting only of his contributions and the income, expenses, gains, and losses attributable thereto, or
(ii)
if a separate account is not maintained with respect to an employee’s contributions under such a plan, the amount which bears the same ratio to his total accrued benefit as the total amount of the employee’s contributions (less withdrawals) bears to the sum of such contributions and the contributions made on his behalf by the employer (less withdrawals).
(B)
Defined benefit plans

In the case of a defined benefit plan, the accrued benefit derived from contributions made by an employee as of any applicable date is the amount equal to the employee’s accumulated contributions expressed as an annual benefit commencing at normal retirement age, using an interest rate which would be used under the plan under section 417(e)(3) (as of the determination date).

(C)
Definition of accumulated contributions
For purposes of this subsection, the term “accumulated contribution” means the total of—
(i)
all mandatory contributions made by the employee,
(ii)
interest (if any) under the plan to the end of the last plan year to which subsection (a)(2) does not apply (by reason of the applicable effective date), and
(iii)
interest on the sum of the amounts determined under clauses (i) and (ii) compounded annually—
(I)
at the rate of 120 percent of the Federal mid-term rate (as in effect under section 1274 for the 1st month of a plan year) for the period beginning with the 1st plan year to which subsection (a)(2) applies (by reason of the applicable effective date) and ending with the date on which the determination is being made, and
(II)
at the interest rate which would be used under the plan under section 417(e)(3) (as of the determination date) for the period beginning with the determination date and ending on the date on which the employee attains normal retirement age.
For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “mandatory contributions” means amounts contributed to the plan by the employee which are required as a condition of employment, as a condition of participation in such plan, or as a condition of obtaining benefits under the plan attributable to employer contributions.
(D)
Adjustments

The Secretary is authorized to adjust by regulation the conversion factor described in subparagraph (B) from time to time as he may deem necessary. No such adjustment shall be effective for a plan year beginning before the expiration of 1 year after such adjustment is determined and published.

(3)
Actuarial adjustment

For purposes of this section, in the case of any defined benefit plan, if an employee’s accrued benefit is to be determined as an amount other than an annual benefit commencing at normal retirement age, or if the accrued benefit derived from contributions made by an employee is to be determined with respect to a benefit other than an annual benefit in the form of a single life annuity (without ancillary benefits) commencing at normal retirement age, the employee’s accrued benefit, or the accrued benefits derived from contributions made by an employee, as the case may be, shall be the actuarial equivalent of such benefit or amount determined under paragraph (1) or (2).

(d)
Special rules
(1)
Coordination with section 401(a)(4)
A plan which satisfies the requirements of this section shall be treated as satisfying any vesting requirements resulting from the application of section 401(a)(4) unless—
(A)
there has been a pattern of abuse under the plan (such as a dismissal of employees before their accrued benefits become nonforfeitable) tending to discriminate in favor of employees who are highly compensated employees (within the meaning of section 414(q)), or
(B)
there have been, or there is reason to believe there will be, an accrual of benefits or forfeitures tending to discriminate in favor of employees who are highly compensated employees (within the meaning of section 414(q)).
(2)
Prohibited discrimination

Subsection (a) shall not apply to benefits which may not be provided for designated employees in the event of early termination of the plan under provisions of the plan adopted pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary to preclude the discrimination prohibited by section 401(a)(4).

(3)
Termination or partial termination; discontinuance of contributions
Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), a trust shall not constitute a qualified trust under section 401(a) unless the plan of which such trust is a part provides that—
(A)
upon its termination or partial termination, or
(B)
in the case of a plan to which section 412 does not apply, upon complete discontinuance of contributions under the plan,
the rights of all affected employees to benefits accrued to the date of such termination, partial termination, or discontinuance, to the extent funded as of such date, or the amounts credited to the employees’ accounts, are nonforfeitable. This paragraph shall not apply to benefits or contributions which, under provisions of the plan adopted pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Secretary to preclude the discrimination prohibited by section 401(a)(4), may not be used for designated employees in the event of early termination of the plan. For purposes of this paragraph, in the case of the complete discontinuance of contributions under a profit-sharing or stock bonus plan, such plan shall be treated as having terminated on the day on which the plan administrator notifies the Secretary (in accordance with regulations) of the discontinuance.
[(4)
Repealed. Pub. L. 99–514, title XI, § 1113(b), Oct. 22, 1986, 100 Stat. 2447]
(5)
Treatment of voluntary employee contributions

In the case of a defined benefit plan which permits voluntary employee contributions, the portion of an employee’s accrued benefit derived from such contributions shall be treated as an accrued benefit derived from employee contributions under a plan other than a defined benefit plan.

(6)
Accrued benefit not to be decreased by amendment
(A)
In general

A plan shall be treated as not satisfying the requirements of this section if the accrued benefit of a participant is decreased by an amendment of the plan, other than an amendment described in section 412(d)(2), or section 4281 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.

(B)
Treatment of certain plan amendments
For purposes of subparagraph (A), a plan amendment which has the effect of—
(i)
eliminating or reducing an early retirement benefit or a retirement-type subsidy (as defined in regulations), or
(ii)
eliminating an optional form of benefit,
with respect to benefits attributable to service before the amendment shall be treated as reducing accrued benefits. In the case of a retirement-type subsidy, the preceding sentence shall apply only with respect to a participant who satisfies (either before or after the amendment) the preamendment conditions for the subsidy. The Secretary shall by regulations provide that this subparagraph shall not apply to any plan amendment which reduces or eliminates benefits or subsidies which create significant burdens or complexities for the plan and plan participants, unless such amendment adversely affects the rights of any participant in a more than de minimis manner. The Secretary may by regulations provide that this subparagraph shall not apply to a plan amendment described in clause (ii) (other than a plan amendment having an effect described in clause (i)).
(C)
Special rule for ESOPS
For purposes of this paragraph, any—
(i)
tax credit employee stock ownership plan (as defined in section 409(a)), or
(ii)
employee stock ownership plan (as defined in section 4975(e)(7)),
shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of this paragraph merely because it modifies distribution options in a nondiscriminatory manner.
(D)
Plan transfers
(i)
In general
A defined contribution plan (in this subparagraph referred to as the “transferee plan”) shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of this subsection merely because the transferee plan does not provide some or all of the forms of distribution previously available under another defined contribution plan (in this subparagraph referred to as the “transferor plan”) to the extent that—
(I)
the forms of distribution previously available under the transferor plan applied to the account of a participant or beneficiary under the transferor plan that was transferred from the transferor plan to the transferee plan pursuant to a direct transfer rather than pursuant to a distribution from the transferor plan,
(II)
the terms of both the transferor plan and the transferee plan authorize the transfer described in subclause (I),
(III)
the transfer described in subclause (I) was made pursuant to a voluntary election by the participant or beneficiary whose account was transferred to the transferee plan,
(IV)
the election described in subclause (III) was made after the participant or beneficiary received a notice describing the consequences of making the election, and
(V)
the transferee plan allows the participant or beneficiary described in subclause (III) to receive any distribution to which the participant or beneficiary is entitled under the transferee plan in the form of a single sum distribution.
(ii)
Special rule for mergers, etc.

Clause (i) shall apply to plan mergers and other transactions having the effect of a direct transfer, including consolidations of benefits attributable to different employers within a multiple employer plan.

(E)
Elimination of form of distribution
Except to the extent provided in regulations, a defined contribution plan shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of this section merely because of the elimination of a form of distribution previously available thereunder. This subparagraph shall not apply to the elimination of a form of distribution with respect to any participant unless—
(i)
a single sum payment is available to such participant at the same time or times as the form of distribution being eliminated, and
(ii)
such single sum payment is based on the same or greater portion of the participant’s account as the form of distribution being eliminated.
(e)
Application of vesting standards to certain plans
(1)
The provisions of this section (other than paragraph (2)) shall not apply to—
(A)
a governmental plan (within the meaning of section 414(d)),
(B)
a church plan (within the meaning of section 414(e)) with respect to which the election provided by section 410(d) has not been made,
(C)
a plan which has not, at any time after September 2, 1974, provided for employer contributions, and
(D)
a plan established and maintained by a society, order, or association described in section 501(c)(8) or (9), if no part of the contributions to or under such plan are made by employers of participants in such plan.
(2)
A plan described in paragraph (1) shall be treated as meeting the requirements of this section, for purposes of section 401(a), if such plan meets the vesting requirements resulting from the application of sections 401(a)(4) and 401(a)(7) as in effect on September 1, 1974.
(f)
Special rule for determining normal retirement age for certain existing defined benefit plans
(1)
In general

Notwithstanding subsection (a)(8), an applicable plan shall not be treated as failing to meet any requirement of this subchapter, or as failing to have a uniform normal retirement age for purposes of this subchapter, solely because the plan provides for a normal retirement age described in paragraph (2).

(2)
Applicable plan
For purposes of this subsection—
(A)
In general
The term “applicable plan” means a defined benefit plan the terms of which, on or before December 8, 2014, provided for a normal retirement age which is the earlier of—
(i)
an age otherwise permitted under subsection (a)(8), or
(ii)
the age at which a participant completes the number of years (not less than 30 years) of benefit accrual service specified by the plan.
A plan shall not fail to be treated as an applicable plan solely because the normal retirement age described in the preceding sentence only applied to certain participants or only applied to employees of certain employers in the case of a plan maintained by more than 1 employer.
(B)
Expanded application

Subject to subparagraph (C), if, after December 8, 2014, an applicable plan is amended to expand the application of the normal retirement age described in subparagraph (A) to additional participants or to employees of additional employers maintaining the plan, such plan shall also be treated as an applicable plan with respect to such participants or employees.

(C)
Limitation on expanded application
A defined benefit plan shall be an applicable plan only with respect to an individual who—
(i)
is a participant in the plan on or before January 1, 2017, or
(ii)
is an employee at any time on or before January 1, 2017, of any employer maintaining the plan, and who becomes a participant in such plan after such date.
(Added Pub. L. 93–406, title II, § 1012(a), Sept. 2, 1974, 88 Stat. 901; amended Pub. L. 94–455, title XIX, §§ 1901(a)(62), 1906(b)(13)(A), Oct. 4, 1976, 90 Stat. 1774, 1834; Pub. L. 96–364, title II, § 206, Sept. 26, 1980, 94 Stat. 1287; Pub. L. 98–397, title II, § 202(b), (c), (d)(2), (e)(2), (3), (f), 205, title III, § 301(a)(1), Aug. 23, 1984, 98 Stat. 1437, 1439, 1440, 1449, 1450; Pub. L. 99–509, title IX, §§ 9202(b), 9203(b)(2), Oct. 21, 1986, 100 Stat. 1977, 1979; Pub. L. 99–514, title XI, §§ 1113(a), (b), (d)(B), 1114(b)(10), 1139(a), title XVIII, § 1898(a)(1)(A), (4)(A), (d)(1)(A), (2)(A), (f)(1)(A), Oct. 22, 1986, 100 Stat. 2446, 2447, 2451, 2487, 2941, 2943, 2955, 2956; Pub. L. 100–203, title IX, § 9346(b), Dec. 22, 1987, 101 Stat. 1330–374; Pub. L. 100–647, title I, § 1018(t)(8)(B), Nov. 10, 1988, 102 Stat. 3589; Pub. L. 101–239, title VII, §§ 7861(a)(5)(A), (6)(A), 7871(a)(1), (2), (b)(1), 7881(m)(1), Dec. 19, 1989, 103 Stat. 2430, 2435, 2443; Pub. L. 102–318, title V, § 521(b)(44), July 3, 1992, 106 Stat. 313; Pub. L. 103–465, title VII, § 767(a)(1), Dec. 8, 1994, 108 Stat. 5037; Pub. L. 104–188, title I, § 1442(a), Aug. 20, 1996, 110 Stat. 1808; Pub. L. 105–34, title X, § 1071(a)(1), (2)(A), Aug. 5, 1997, 111 Stat. 948; Pub. L. 107–16, title VI, §§ 633(a), 645(a)(1), (b)(1), 648(a)(1), June 7, 2001, 115 Stat. 115, 123, 125, 127; Pub. L. 108–311, title IV, § 408(a)(14), Oct. 4, 2004, 118 Stat. 1192; Pub. L. 109–280, title I, § 114(b), title VII, 701(b), title IX, §§ 902(d)(2)(A), (B), 904(a), Aug. 17, 2006, 120 Stat. 853, 984, 1038, 1048; Pub. L. 110–458, title I, §§ 101(d)(2)(D), 107(b), 109(b)(2), Dec. 23, 2008, 122 Stat. 5099, 5107, 5111; Pub. L. 113–235, div. P, § 2(b), Dec. 16, 2014, 128 Stat. 2828; Pub. L. 115–141, div. U, title IV, § 401(a)(82), (b)(19), Mar. 23, 2018, 132 Stat. 1188, 1202.)
cite as: 26 USC 411