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Direct Benefit Pension Scheme: a Complete Guide



Direct Benefit Pension Scheme: a Complete Guide

A direct benefit pension scheme is a retirement plan generally sponsored by the employer.

It calculates employee benefits based on several aspects like their salary and their tenure of employment.

The employer is solely responsible for handling the investments and the risks, and usually, they take help from an independent investment manager to do this perfectly.

Direct or defined benefit pension plans ensure a fixed income for an employee post-retirement, which increases in accord with the rising inflation.

Though the fund is managed primarily by the employers, you can chip in too with your contributions, and in some cases, that may be mandatory too.

What does it offer?

Direct benefit pension schemes, also known as qualified-benefit plans, are systematically planned.

That’s why both employers and employees know the formula to calculate all the retirement benefits beforehand.

Employees can use it to set the payouts, and employers can plan the investments well before time.

This scheme is pretty different from traditional retirement funds, as the payouts are not dependent on the returns on investment.

If employers get it wrong and poor investment choices or miscalculations result in a shortfall, they have a legal obligation to compensate the employee.

Here are some key points of a direct benefit pension scheme:

  • Direct benefit pension plans, including defined benefit transfer values, calculate the payout based on a couple of factors like the period of time of your employment and the history of your salary.
  • Unlike defined contribution schemes, the responsibilities completely fall on the employer for all the planning and the risks attached.
  • The retirement benefits can be taken as an annuity (monthly) or a single lump-sum amount.
  • When the employee dies, the surviving spouse, if any, will get the benefits.

How is it managed?

Usually, the Board of Trustees operates direct benefit schemes. These trustees take full responsibility for every aspect of it.

An administrator manages the scheme on a day-to-day basis and then reports to the Board. The pension benefits are calculated according to the payout structure.

The payment structures can be divided into two groups- annuity and lump-sum.

The selection is pretty significant, too, as the choice impacts the final pension amount.

You should make this decision according to your lifestyle, credit history, and the big investments if you’ve planned any. You can also consider consulting with a financial advisor to know your best option.

You can also consider working for an additional year that generously increases employee benefits because the number of years in service increases in the formula.

Additionally, specific stipulations ensure an increase in pension benefits if the employee works even after the normal retirement age.

Different payment options:

In terms of direct benefit pension schemes, employees generally get two basic options- either in a lump sum amount or as an annuity that’ll go on for the rest of their life.

The more stipulations you add to the annuity payment, your monthly pension gets lower.

So if you’re in good health and have no specific obstruction against a long life, it’s better to choose the annuity plan as you’ll extract much more from it.

But if you need expensive medical treatment, or you’ve planned a big investment such as buying a house, then the lump sum option is the better bet. Then, after all your expenses, you can reinvest the amount as you wish.

It’s a huge decision that’ll affect your elder years and your family post-retirement.

So, think carefully, and if you’re leaning towards annuity, then here are different ways you can structure it:

Single life payment- Monthly pension for as long as you live; the payments will be made to your beneficiaries after your death.

Single life with a certain term- Monthly pension for you, and if you die before the specified term is complete, your beneficiaries will continue to receive payment for a predefined number of years.

50% joint and survivor- After your death, your spouse will get monthly support for their entire life, which will be 50% of the original monthly pension.

100% joint and survivor- After your death, your spouse will get monthly amounts for as long as they live, which will be the same as the original monthly annuity.


Direct benefit pension schemes are the best way to make your post-retirement life financially secure.

And not only you but your entire family will have a monthly payment at their hands even when you’re gone.

Though it’s not as prevalent in the private sector nowadays, there’s no doubt about the obvious benefits of this scheme.

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