Can my employer change the percent I am vested in my 401(k) after firing me?

I had 7 years and 10 months with the company.
The company 401(k) policy states an employee is 100% vested after 6 years.
When I checked my account to roll over, they are only awarding 80%. Is that legal?

1 answer  |  asked Aug 24, 2009 2:06 PM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
A 401k plan is governed by a body of tax and benefit law known as ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1978. Any ERISA benefit plan has to be operated in accordance with a plan agreement that dictates how and when benefits are payable, and when vesting occurs. Your employer has no discretion in changing or denying benefits. The plan requires a document, called a "summary plan description," to be made available to a plan participant upon request. This document summarizes the terms of the plan, including the vesting terms. If you have questions about your plan benefits, the plan has a plan administrator, who may or may not be your employer or someone in the employer's organization. You should direct your questions to that person. The plan is also required to have an appeal process if you are dissatisfied with the administrator's decisions regarding benefits. All of this information is contained in the summary plan description. If you do not have it already, I suggest you ask for one and follow the instructions for contacting the plan administrator, and, if necessary, appealing the decision to limit the percentage of your vesting. If it gets more complicated than that, you should consult with an attorney.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Aug 24, 2009 4:47 PM [EST]

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