General Information About Retirement

There Are Many Different Sources of Income in Retirement

Social Security benefits are a critically important source of retirement income for most older Americans, but they were never intended to provide enough money for them to live comfortably. It was assumed that older individuals would also have income from savings and a workplace retirement plan.

There Are Many Types of Workplace Retirement Plans

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.

General Information About Retirement Highlights:


Why Pensions Are Important


Income of Today’s Older Adults

10/23/23 |Pension Rights Center

How many American workers participate in workplace retirement plans?

The Latest on General Information About Retirement:

Blogs & Newsletters

Uptick in Withdrawals Exposes the Inadequacy of Do-It-Yourself Retirement

For decades, employers have been steadily ridding themselves of the responsibility of funding and making payments to traditional defined benefit pensions in favor of 401(k)-type defined contribution plans. But are these individual account retirement savings plans providing sufficient retirement income for most Americans? For millions of workers, that answer is “No.” A survey of individuals […]

Speeches & Statements

Speech by Karen Friedman at the ARA Retiree Security Symposium

Karen Friedman, Executive Director of the PRC, gave a speech to attendees at the 2023 ARA Retiree Security Symposium in Washington, D.C. on October 17th. You can read her comments here.

PRC In the News

Forbes: Transferring Your 401(k) To An IRA? 5 Things You You Need To Know To Avoid Getting Burned

Trillions of dollars in 401(k) assets are on the move as employees retire or change jobs. It’s not difficult to transfer these funds, but there’s a lot you need to know to avoid getting fleeced.

PRC In the News

NYT: Why Some Ex-Workers at Bed Bath & Beyond Face 401(k) Losses

Federal law generally protects retirement savings when a company files for bankruptcy. But that’s not always the case.

PRC In the News

CNN: Traditional pension plans are pretty rare. But here’s who still has them and how they work

The phrase “pension benefits” may come up a lot in the next several days as negotiations between the United Auto Workers union and the Big Three automakers go down to the wire to avert a strike. But for most private-sector US workers, pensions disappeared long ago.

Blogs & Newsletters

Barbienomics: from panacea to real world poverty

By Karen Friedman I joined the throngs of people who flocked to see the monumentally popular movie, Barbie. I dressed up in hot pink from head to toe – because I can’t resist any opportunity for theatricality and a fun community event (which won’t surprise anyone who has been to our fundraising galas). My younger […]

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