Waivers affecting pension benefits may be entered into as part of a controversy (for example, a settlement agreement) or in isolation (for example, a disclaimer). Under current law, however, it is unclear how these waivers fit within the protections of ERISA, particularly the antialienation rule. Courts have generally honored settlement agreements so long as they are procedurally fair to participants. However, the antialienation rule looms in the background. The IRS and Treasury, in contrast, have focused on waivers outside the settlement context, prohibiting participants from making them but allowing beneficiaries to do so if the waiver satisfies gift-tax rules for disclaimers. The author critiques these results and suggests that waivers that settle disputes or that simply refuse plan benefits are outside the scope of the antialienation rule and should be respected.

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14 Benefits Law Journal 61 (2001)