Document Type

Fact Sheet

Publication Date



As employers move away from traditional defined benefit pension plans in favor of defined contribution 401(k) plans, the number of frozen pension plans is rapidly increasing. While most companies would like to rid themselves of their pension plan liabilities, more often than not, employers deem it too costly to terminate their existing plans and pay out all accrued benefits to participants and beneficiaries. As a result, instead of terminating their existing pension plans, many employers are electing to “freeze” their plans. Pension plans may be frozen using a “hard freeze” or a “soft freeze”. While both types of plan freezes result in cost savings for a company, a plan freeze also results in the elimination of future benefit accruals for one more groups of employees. This fact sheet will explain the differences between a hard freeze and a soft freeze, as well as discuss other plan freeze considerations and your options going forward.

Community Engaged/Serving

Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.