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All,
I am 56 years of age and planning on retiring at the end of this year and will take a lump sum payment instead of yearly payments from my company's defined benefit retirement program. I am told that there is a formula that determines what the lump sum amount will be that is regulated by the govt and dependent on the prime rate. Can anyone give me some help about exactly how the computation is made and what it is dependent on? Are there potential advantages or disadvantages to waiting past the end of the year?

J. Davis
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Can anyone give me some help about exactly how the
computation is made and what it is dependent on? Are
to waiting past the end of the year?

The calculation is extremely complicated, but you can get close by using a simple amortization schedule. That calculation uses your life expectancy, the annual retirement income you have earned and an interest rate. An organization named PBGC (Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.)publishes the interest rates, but each company can use a different twist as to how those rates are applied. For example some companies use the average rate over the last three periods, others use the current rate, etc. Some companies have life expectancy tables for their employees, some companies use standard life expectancy tables, etc. The main thing to watch as far as timing goes is what interest rates are doing. That is the single factor that impacts the lump sum the most. Of course, you need to take into account how your retirement benefit changes with time. The best way to get accurate numbers is to have your company calculate a couple of cases.

Regards, Jim

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<<The main thing to watch as far as timing goes is what interest rates are doing. >>

LOWER interest rates = Higher lump sum amount

Based on the present value calculation, you will need more money in order to create the future income stream that they're trying to achieve.
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There is a discussion going on right now about lump sum payouts on the Estate Planning and the Fool board. It's in the "Do it yourself estate planning" thread starting at approx post #160.

I don't know if it will help you or not, but there has been a lot of info put forth.

Carol