Part of the fallout from the last few years of a recessionary economy is that the economic hardships we encounter do not just impact our bottom lines today, they can have a profound effect on our long-term wealth management and financial security. Many companies, families and individuals are struggling, and those struggles come together over the subject of retirement packages and defined benefit plans. The issue has become somewhat of a hot topic over the past few years, as many companies try and tighten their belts by strategically offering buyouts and early retirement. Employees that have defined benefit plans need to proceed with caution, however. If you are not ready to retire, but your company is offering some kind of incentive plan to encourage employees to retire early, that could be a red flag. If your company offers you a buyout, severance or a retirement incentive program, one of the warning signs you need to watch out for is if they offer that incentive package paid out of the company pension plan. Keep in mind that if a pension plan is less than 60% funded, the company is legally prohibited from offering a lump sum payment. If you are given the option to receive your benefits in a lump sum or in the form of an annuity, consult with an experienced advisor to determine which method of payment makes sense for your individual economic circumstances and lifestyle priorities.