Pension Portability and Preservation:

Issues and Proposals

T-HRD-88-24: Published: Jul 12, 1988. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 1988.

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GAO examined pension portability and preservation for workers who have vested pension benefits, focusing on: (1) how job mobility affected workers' pension incomes in retirement; (2) types of portability and preservation arrangements; and (3) legislative proposals designed to enhance pension portability and preservation. GAO found that: (1) workers vested in a series of defined benefit plans could suffer retirement income losses, while those vested in a series of defined contribution plans would not experience a job mobility loss if they kept their vested pension assets in the plans or rolled them over into another plan; (2) the private pension system had limited pension and service portability; (3) many employees spent rather than preserved their cashed-out pension assets when changing jobs; and (4) implementation of current proposals would entail difficult economic tradeoffs by employers, employees, and the government.

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