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Defined Benefit Pension Plans
Hopkins, Justin J.; Craddock, Jenny Technical Note C-2472 / Published January 12, 2024 / 7 pages.
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Product Overview

This technical note provides background on defined benefit pension plans in the United States and a basic understanding of accounting for defined benefit plans. Topics discussed include differences between defined benefit and defined contribution plans, the effects of defined benefit plans on the balance sheet and income statements, and interpreting related footnote disclosures. This note is intended to be a broad overview of pension plan accounting; students in need of a more technical and thorough reference should supplement this note with material from a text used in intermediate accounting courses.



Learning Objectives

- Gain an understanding of the difference between defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans - Recognize how the use of each has varied across time in US companies - Learn the broad financial statement implications to defined benefit plans - Learn to interpret footnote disclosures related to defined benefit pension plans


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  • Overview

    This technical note provides background on defined benefit pension plans in the United States and a basic understanding of accounting for defined benefit plans. Topics discussed include differences between defined benefit and defined contribution plans, the effects of defined benefit plans on the balance sheet and income statements, and interpreting related footnote disclosures. This note is intended to be a broad overview of pension plan accounting; students in need of a more technical and thorough reference should supplement this note with material from a text used in intermediate accounting courses.

  • Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    - Gain an understanding of the difference between defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans - Recognize how the use of each has varied across time in US companies - Learn the broad financial statement implications to defined benefit plans - Learn to interpret footnote disclosures related to defined benefit pension plans