Pensions and retirement plans—USA—Q&A guide

The following Pensions practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Pensions and retirement plans—USA—Q&A guide
  • 1. What are the main statutes and regulations relating to pensions and retirement plans?
  • 2. What are the primary regulatory authorities and how do they enforce the governing laws?
  • 3. What is the framework for taxation of pensions?
  • 4. What is the state pension system?
  • 5. How is the state pension calculated and what factors may cause the pension to be enhanced or reduced?
  • 6. Is the state pension designed to provide a certain level of replacement income to workers who have worked continuously until retirement age?
  • 7. Is the state pension system under pressure to reduce benefits or otherwise change its current structure in any way on account of current fiscal realities?
  • 8. What are the main types of private pensions and retirement plans that are provided to a broad base of employees?
  • 9. Are employers required to arrange or contribute to supplementary pension schemes for employees? What restrictions or prohibitions limit an employer’s ability to exclude certain employees from participation in broad-based retirement plans?
  • More...

Pensions and retirement plans—USA—Q&A guide

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to pensions and retirement plans in USA published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: March 2021).

Authors: Sullivan & Worcester LLP—David A. Guadagnoli; Amy E. Sheridan

1. What are the main statutes and regulations relating to pensions and retirement plans?

Pension and retirement plans are generally governed by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, Title 26 of the United States Code, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, Title 29, Chapter 18 of the United States Code (ERISA). Associated regulations appear in Title 26 and 29 (Subtitle B) of the Code of Federal Regulations, respectively. ERISA generally pre-empts the laws of the 50 states on matters that relate to benefits, but ERISA does not pre-empt other potentially applicable US and state laws.

2. What are the primary regulatory authorities and how do they enforce the governing laws?

The Department of Treasury and its bureau, the Internal Revenue Service, are responsible for administering the Internal Revenue Code through regulations, generally applicable guidance (such as revenue rulings and procedures, notices and announcements), taxpayer specific guidance (such as private letter rulings), informal guidance and audits. The Department of Labor and its bureau, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, are responsible for administering the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) through regulations and interpretive bulletins, generally applicable guidance (such as prohibited transaction class exemptions),

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