Benefits Made Easy

Associated Benefits Corporation (ABC) provides administrative and consulting services for employee benefit plans to the cooperative system.

A not-for-profit corporation, ABC is a full-service provider of 401(k) plans and defined benefit pension plans. We also manage employee health and welfare plans including life, medical, dental and vision insurance, along with long-term disability insurance and flexible benefit plans.

ABC Retirement Team


Associated Benefits Corporation (ABC) developed the 401(k) Thrift Plan for Cooperatives in 1986. Since ABC is a not-for-profit organization, we collect only enough administrative fees from cooperatives we serve to cover the cost of the plans administration.

Because of this arrangement and economics of scale, our fees have remained at levels well below those of local, regional and national independent administration firms.

In addition, our legal counsel, trustee and investment advisors help make this plan a leader in the industry. ABC’s qualified staff is also committed to educating participants about the Thrift Plan for Cooperatives.

Online Investment Advice and Professional Management is available through Financial Engines, America’s Largest Independent Investment Advisor. You can access Financial Engines directly from your 401(k) website dashboard.

401(k) Plan Login

ABC utilizes Principal as the trustee and recordkeeper for 401(k) plans administered through ABC.

Having trouble logging into your account? Please contact Principal at 800-547-7754. You can also check your balance and obtain other information over the phone.

FAQs 401(k)

What is the Thrift Plan for Cooperatives?
By combining nearly 150 cooperatives together in the Thrift Plan for Cooperatives, this allows our members to buy top quality shares/funds at the institutional level (lowest possible cost). Using this plan design, our members are retaining more of their hard earned money for retirement.
How do I sign up for an account online?
What is Principal’s role in the 401(k) plan?
Principal is the trustee for the Thrift Plan for Cooperatives. All monies are held in a trust for benefit of each employee and his/her beneficiaries. ABC also utilizes Principal’s online platform so our members can easily access their accounts online anytime.
How do I start contributing to my plan?
Contact your human resource department for a new enrollment form.
Can I change the amount I am contributing each month online?
What is the maximum amount I can contribute to my 401(k) per year?

According to IRS, the maximum amount you can contribute to your 401(k) plan is $23,000 for 2024. However, there is a “catch-up” contribution available to those who are 50 and older. The “catch-up” contributions for those 50 and older is $7,500 for 2024.

What is the difference between pre-tax and Roth?

Pre-Tax 401(k): The employee is choosing to defer taxes until retirement has commenced at which time he/she will be responsible for the taxes on their contributions and the investment growth. The employer directly deposits the employee’s deferred compensation into an investment funds selected by the employee.

  • Pro: Lower tax liability today, tax deferred accumulation
  • Con: Must pay taxes during retirement, limited access to money (loans)>

Roth 401(k): The employee is willing to pay the taxes today in order to have tax free income after 59 ½ and once retirement has commenced. Tax free income includes the contributions he/she has made and the investment growth in the account. The taxes will be paid from their paychecks and then deposited into investment funds selected by the employee.

  • Pro: Tax free income at retirement, tax exempt growth and possibility of higher tax brackets
  • Con: Possibility of lower tax bracket, higher tax liability today and no access to money
Who do I need to contact to change my contribution percentage or redirect the funds I am investing in?
You can also make changes at anytime by visiting www.principal.com. You can also contact the dedicated 401(k) team at Associated Benefits at 800-747-4421. Our team can help walk you through the process of changing your contribution amount or redirecting your funds.
Can I rollover old 401(k) money from a prior employer into the Thrift Plan for Cooperatives?

First, you will need to contact your previous employer’s human resource department and inform them that you would like to rollover your 401(k).

Second, you will need to let Principal know that you have rollover funds heading their way. You can notify Principal by logging into your account online or by calling them at 1-800-547-7754.

Information you will need for your rollover form:

New Plan Name: Thrift Plan for Cooperatives
Plan Trustee: Principal Financial Trust
Type of Rollover: Direct Trustee to Trustee
Account Number: Employee Social Security Number

Your funds will automatically be invested in your current asset allocation. If you have not set up your asset allocation, the age-appropriate Target Date Fund will be used.

Am I eligible to take a loan?

Loans are available if your vested account balance is at least $2000. You may borrow up to 50% of your vested account balance from your pretax sources. You may only have two outstanding loans at a time.

Who do I contact to setup a loan through my 401(k)?
You can setup a loan through your 401(k) by visiting www.principal.com. You can also contact the dedicated 401(k) team at Associated Benefits at 800-747-4421. Our team will explain the options you have available for a loan and help you setup a repayment schedule.
Can I withdrawal my money while still actively at work?
In-Service distributions at age 59 1/2.
How do I see the different funds offered and the expense ratios?

Please visit the 401(k) website at www.principal.com.

Follow these steps once you are registered online:

Investments (drop down menu at the top)
Investment Performance (click)

After I retire, can I leave my balance with ABC or do I have to move it?
You have the option to leave your money in your account as long as you have a balance of $1,000 or more. If it were to drop below $1,000, you will have the option for a direct rollover or take the money as a distribution.
What are my distribution options once I commence retirement?

Once you commence retirement, Principal will send you a retirement package including your distribution options. They will look very similar to the options listed below:

  • You may leave your account balance in the Thrift Plan for Cooperatives as long as you have a $1,000 or more.
  • You may rollover your account to another qualified plan.
  • You will have the ability to take a lump sum distribution, monthly withdrawals or periodic withdrawals.
  • You will receive a 1099-R at the end of the year showing the distributions taken from your 401(k).
How do I change my beneficiary?
Fill out this form.
What is a mutual fund?
Mutual funds are made of many investors pooling their money together in order to get greater exposure/diversification in stocks, bonds and other market securities. One other important note about mutual funds is that they are professionally managed.
What is account rebalancing?
Account rebalancing is built on the concept that you set your portfolio at a strategic allocation (such as 60% stocks and 40% bonds) and continue to monitor that allocation on a quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis. Once you are signed into Principal, you have the ability to choose the automatic rebalance feature that takes place each quarter.

*If you are in a Target Date Fund, this concept is automatically built into your appropriate retirement fund and will happen automatically.

How aggressive should I be when choosing funds?

***Any employer match that is debited to his/her investment account will be done on a pre-tax basis. This will result in the employee paying taxes on the employer contribution once retirement has commenced.

“Associated Benefits Corporation is always a call or email away when we are in need of any assistance. The response time is prompt and the answers are thorough. ABC is easy to work with and are a great resource for Farmers Win Coop!”

­— Farmers Win Coop