DEFINITION of 'Plan Participant'
A plan participant either contributes into a pension plan or is in a position to receive benefit payments from the plan. It includes a retired person receiving distributions from a pension plan, or a beneficiary or dependent named by a contributing member.
BREAKING DOWN 'Plan Participant'
A plan participant has the right to receive benefit payments from a pension plan, whether it is a defined benefit or a defined contribution pension plan, as long as the requirements under the plan's contract has been fulfilled. Under most defined benefit pension plans, the member is required to complete a minimum number of years or service in order to qualify for their maximum pension allowable.
The tax law definition of an "active participant" to a company plan could include employees not participating in the employer's plan.