Employee Rights Attorney

Mission Viejo, California

Q: I am in my company’s pension plan (not a 401 k), but the company stopped contributing to it at the end of 1999. I was 65 in December 1998. I’m still working for the company full time. Can I collect my pension and continue working for them full time?

A: “Company pensions are paid upon retirement from the company,” says employee rights attorney Peter W. Taylor of Don D. Sessions Law Corp., Mission Viejo. “The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 and Age Discrimination in Employment Act provide protection from age discrimination in that no employee benefit plan may require an individual’s involuntary retirement due to age. (There is no mandatory retirement age.) Early retirement plans are allowed if they present genuine choices that can benefit the employee.

“There are two main types of pension plans-a defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan. Both involve employer funding. It is not permissible to deny service accruals and salary credits to employees over age 65.

“An employer can limit the number of years of service or participation required in the pension plan but cannot base the limitations on a participant’s age. You need to look at the specific terms and conditions of the retirement plan to determine if employer contributions are limited by a permissible reason.

“Collecting a retirement pension income while actively working in the same job for the same employer would be inconsistent with general retirement principles. Some types of work, such as teaching, permit limited continued employment after retirement. Normally, you are not allowed to work full time for the same employer after you retire.”