An active employee who has met the eligibility requirements of the employer’s retirement plan, a former employee (such as a retiree or terminated employee) who previously met such eligibility requirements and maintains a balance in the former employer’s plan, a beneficiary, or an alternate payee. (Note that beneficiaries and alternate payees are technically “beneficiaries” rather than “participants” as defined under ERISA, but the term “participant” is commonly used in investment contracts to refer to both categories.) A participant may sometimes be called an investor because the participant of a plan directs allocations among a plan’s investment options.