Plan Permanency

Retirement,planning,letter,in,brown,envelope,opening,,business,conceptThere are several misconceptions surrounding the funding requirements of retirement plans, particularly when it comes to Defined Benefit Plans. Many individuals falsely believe that funding their plan is a long-term commitment that must be maintained for a minimum of three years or more. This notion often deters people from considering a Defined Benefit Plan, wrongly assuming it lacks flexibility. However, the truth is that funding requirements are not fixed and apply to all retirement plans, not just Defined Benefit Plans. In this blog post, we will debunk these misconceptions and shed light on the concept of plan permanency.

Understanding the Concept of Plan Permanency:

The concept of plan permanency applies to all retirement plans, regardless of their type. It highlights the flexibility available to plan sponsors to amend, alter, freeze, or even shut down a retirement plan for valid business reasons. This means that retirement plans are not set in stone and can be modified or terminated if circumstances change or if it aligns with the organization’s strategic goals. It is vital to underscore that this flexibility applies to Defined Benefit Plans just as much as it does to 401(k) plans, SEP plans, or any other retirement plan.

Dispelling the Myth of Constant Funding:

One common misconception about retirement plans, including Defined Benefit Plans, is that they necessitate ongoing or constant funding. This belief often arises due to a misunderstanding of the funding requirements, leading individuals to believe they are stuck with a fixed financial commitment. However, the truth is that the funding requirements of retirement plans are based on actuarial calculations and regulatory guidelines, allowing for adjustments and amendments as needed. This flexibility enables plan sponsors to tailor their funding contributions based on the financial situation and business needs of the organization.

Understanding the Freedom to Amend and Alter:

Retirement plans, including Defined Benefit Plans, can be amended or altered to reflect changing circumstances or organizational objectives. For example, if a company experiences financial difficulties, the plan sponsor may choose to reduce or suspend contributions temporarily until the financial situation improves. Similarly, if the business undergoes significant growth or restructuring, adjustments can be made to ensure the retirement plan aligns with the revised goals and objectives. This flexibility allows organizations to adapt their plans according to their unique circumstances, ensuring they remain viable and beneficial to both employers and employees.

Freezing or Shutting Down a Retirement Plan:

In certain scenarios, it may be appropriate for a plan sponsor to freeze or even shut down a retirement plan. Freezing a plan refers to the suspension of future benefit accruals while maintaining the assets within the plan. This can occur due to shifts in business dynamics, changes in employee demographics or expectations, or other valid business reasons. Additionally, a plan may be completely terminated, leading to the distribution of accrued benefits to participants. These options, including freezing or terminating a Defined Benefit Plan, provide the necessary flexibility for employers to manage their retirement benefits appropriately.


The belief that funding retirement plans, particularly Defined Benefit Plans, is a fixed and ongoing commitment is a misconception that often deters individuals from considering them. In truth, all retirement plans offer flexibility through the concept of plan permanency. Plan sponsors have the ability to amend, alter, freeze, or shut down a retirement plan for valid business reasons, ensuring their suitability and adaptability to changing circumstances. It is crucial to understand that this flexibility applies to all retirement plans, not just Defined Benefit Plans. By dispelling these misconceptions, individuals can make informed decisions about the retirement plan that best suits their needs and goals.

Got Questions? Let Us Help!

Fiduciary Advisors, Ltd. is a business-to-business associated pension administrator based in Phoenix, Arizona, since 1990. We specialize in designing and planning employee retirement programs, pensions, profit sharing, and are third-party administrators for 401K for small- to medium-size businesses. We conduct enrollment meetings, prepare detailed actuarial calculations, cash-balance plans, and financial consultation for all businesses. Give us a call today for more information!