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Question: How long does a participant have to wait to become a member of a pension plan and to become vested in their benefits?
Answer: Generally, a plan may require a person to reach age 21 to be eligible to participate in the plan and to have a year of service. Vesting means the employee has earned a non-forfeitable right to benefits funded by employer contributions. Employees always have a non-forfeitable right to their own contributions.
Beginning in 2002, there are two basic vesting schedules. Under the three-year schedule, workers are 100% vested after three years of service under the plan. The six-year graduated schedule allows workers to become 20% vested after two years and to vest at a rate of 20% each year thereafter until they are 100% vested after six years of service. Plans may have faster vesting schedules.