What Are Cash Balance Plans?

Cash balance plans are defined benefit plans that in many ways resemble defined contribution plans. Like defined benefit plans, they are obligated to pay you a specified amount at retirement and are insured by the federal government. But they also offer one of the most familiar features of a defined contribution plan: Retirement funds accumulate in an individual account.

This allows you to easily track how much retirement benefit you have accrued. And your benefit is portable. If you leave your employer, you can generally opt to receive a lump-sum distribution of your vested account balance. These funds can be rolled over to an individual retirement account (IRA) or to your new employer’s retirement plan, but there are significant tax-related considerations in doing so, and you should seek the advice of a tax professional.