Benefit Election Platform

MyPenChecks is a platform for retirement plan participants to select their payment distribution options, also known as benefit elections.

The problem

With the legacy platform, the process to submit benefit elections was confusing and not intuitive. It felt intimidating and outdated to users.

Customer Experience had a very high call volume of participants confirming the legitimacy of the site before entering sensitive personal information.

Participants had no transparency into the process or status of their money. Not only was this frustrating for users, but this contributed to high call volume.

About half of users accessed the legacy platform on a mobile device, even though it was not optimized for mobile.

My role

I owned and executed all aspects of product design, while collaborating with our team of 4 developers, 2 QA team members.

I also created and maintain the design system for this project.


This project had a strict timeline of 10 months from my hire date to launch. It was kicked off only 6 short weeks prior to the unexpected shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so plans and processes had to adapt on the fly.

Due to this project's domain in the retirement and finance industry, there are countless regulations and rules that had to be followed and continuously audited.

  • Decrease call volume to Customer Experience

  • Increase transparency and feedback to user

  • Increase sense of trust and legitimacy

  • Improve experience across devices


In order to understand the needs and challenges of participants, I interviewed key internal staff members with a focus on Customer Experience. I also met with a variety of individuals to understand the level of knowledge of the retirement system and how they would go about a distribution from their retirement plan.

In my research I found that generally even if individuals had decent financial knowledge, they had a lack of knowledge about their retirement funds. 

People needed a lot of guidance from customer service to get through the flow of electing their retirement plan benefits, but also they would submit their elections and have no indication of what was happening after that point. This was a major pain point, participants felt they were electing their benefits and it was going into a black hole.

The plan sponsor or administrator hires PenChecks to facilitate this process, so establishing trust with the end user was important, as most are unaware of PenChecks prior to receiving a notice.

Personas PenChecks Participants-01.png
Personas PenChecks Participants-02.png

This flow was created based on my research. It shows the process a participant goes through when they need to give instruction on how they'd like to receive their distribution from their retirement fund.

The yellow post-its identify needs of the user and areas of opportunity.

Participant Elections - New frame.jpg

Based on the flows above, I created a form for benefit elections. I also designed a summary screen where the participant can return to check their payment status. 


After conducting user testing on my wireframe as well as getting stakeholder input, I decided to break up the steps by screen in order to reduce the cognitive load.  This also provided a technical benefit by making calculations and validating when submitting each page. Besides the benefits to the structure of the backend, it allows users to more easily correct any issues along the way . 


After launching MyPenChecks, the volume of calls regarding help on navigating the benefit election flow was reduced by an estimated 20%.  Participants overall have given feedback that the process for electing benefits is quick and much cleaner.


The volume of calls to determine legitimacy of the company declined slightly, an estimated 5%. I believe this is an area that can still be improved upon.

The site has been optimized for both desktop and mobile devices.


If I had more time for this project I would have done more extensive user testing as I feel I could've uncovered even more insights, as well as put more time and effort into creating educational content on the home page in order to help participants feel more confident that they can make the correct financial decisions.


Since participants are still calling customer service to check if the site is legitimate, there is still an opportunity to improve upon the knowledge up front, before the participant has to enter their personal details. I also would like to further improve on closing the loop with the participant, potentially by providing automatic email notices for status updates on their distribution.