The two main categories are pensions, often called defined benefit plans, and retirement savings plans, called defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans and 403(b) plans. How your retirement plan works, what your benefit will look like when you retire, whether you can pass your benefit on to your children, and whether you need to contribute your own money into the plan will all depend in large part on whether your plan is a pension plan or a retirement savings plan.
In addition to the type of plan you have, the kind of employer you have will also affect how your retirement plan works. For instance, the laws regulating your retirement benefits differ depending on whether you worked for a government, a private employer, or a religious organization. They also can differ if your plan is offered by more than one employer.
The resources below explain how the different types of retirement plan work, key concepts and terms that often come up when people talk about retirement, and helpful information that can apply to many different types of retirement plans. You will also find important facts and figures about retirement benefits in the United States.