Types of Retirement Plans - Top heavy plans

A top-heavy plan is one that mainly favors partners, sole proprietors and other key employees. Top-heavy rules are designed to ensure lower paid employees receive at least a minimum benefit in plans where most of the assets are owned by higher paid employees.

A. Definition
A plan is top heavy for a plan year if, for the preceding year, the total value of accrued benefits or account balances of key employees is more than 60% of total value of accrued benefits or account balances of key employees.

B. Key employee
An employee who at any time during the plan year is:

  • More than 5% owner of the employer;
  • More than 1% owner of the employer with annual compensation greater than $150,000; or
  • An officer with an annual compensation greater than $170,000 (2014, indexed for inflation).

C.Vesting
A top-heavy plan must satisfy one of two minimum vesting schedules:
 

  • Three-year cliff vesting - 100% vesting after three years of service with no minimum vesting before then.
  • Six-year graded vesting - 20% vesting after second year of service, and an additional 20% each subsequent year until 100% vesting is reached after six years of service.

D. Effects on contributions or benefits

  • Defined contribution plans - A top-heavy defined contribution plan must make minimum contributions of at least 3% of compensation for non-key employees for the entire plan year.
    • Elective deferrals by the employee do not count toward the 3% minimum.
  • Defined benefit plans - A minimum benefit accrual must be made for each employee who earned a year of service in a top-heavy year, regardless of whether the employee has separated from service.
Loans from qualified plans
Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 3 Switzerland ETFs

    Explore detailed analysis and information of the top three Swiss exchange-traded funds that offer exposure to the Swiss equities market.
  2. Savings

    What Women Investors Are Doing Right

    Women's risk aversion, penchant for research – and lack of male-style "irrational exuberance" – means their investing strategies often put them ahead.
  3. Investing Basics

    Explaining Risk-Adjusted Return

    Risk-adjusted return is a measurement of risk for an investment or portfolio.
  4. Investing Basics

    Calculating the Margin of Safety

    Buying below the margin of safety minimizes the risk to the investor.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: PowerShares S&P 500 Downside Hedged

    Find out about the PowerShares S&P 500 Downside Hedged ETF, and learn detailed information about characteristics, suitability and recommendations of it.
  6. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: Guggenheim Enhanced Short Dur

    Find out about the Guggenheim Enhanced Short Duration ETF, and learn detailed information about this fund that focuses on fixed-income securities.
  7. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares Morningstar Small-Cap Value

    Find out about the Shares Morningstar Small-Cap Value ETF, and learn detailed information about this exchange-traded fund that focuses on small-cap equities.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social

    Find out about the iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social exchange-traded fund, and learn detailed information about its characteristics, suitability and recommendations.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: Guggenheim BulletShrs 2018 HY CorpBd

    Find out about the Guggenheim BulletShares 2018 High Yield Corporate Bond ETF, and get information about this ETF that focuses on high-yield corporate bonds.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: PowerShares DWA SmallCap Momentum

    Find out about the PowerShares DWA SmallCap Momentum Portfolio ETF, and explore detailed analysis the fund's characteristics, suitability and recommendations.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Net Line

    The amount of risk that an insurance company retains after subtracting ...
  2. Political Risk Insurance

    Coverage that provides financial protection to investors, financial ...
  3. Maximum Drawdown (MDD)

    The maximum loss from a peak to a trough of a portfolio, before ...
  4. Gross Exposure

    The absolute level of a fund's investments.
  5. Priori Loss Estimates

    A technique used by insurance companies to calculate loss reserves.
  6. Value Of Risk (VOR)

    The financial benefit that a risk-taking activity will bring ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. Is my IRA/Roth IRA FDIC-Insured?

    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, is a government-run agency that provides protection against losses if ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Does index trading increase market vulnerability?

    The rise of index trading may increase the overall vulnerability of the stock market due to increased correlations between ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are common delta hedging strategies?

    The term delta refers to the change in price of an underlying stock or exchange-traded fund (ETF) as compared to the corresponding ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does being overweight in a particular sector increase risk to a portfolio?

    An investor who is overweight in a particular sector risks a loss in value for the portfolio if there is a downturn in that ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the primary risks an investor should consider when investing in the retail ...

    The retail sector consists of companies operating in multiple industries such as specialty retail, general retail, food and ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What risks do I face when investing in the insurance sector?

    Like all equity investments, insurance companies present investors with market risk. Insurance companies, like banks, also ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!