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Participants Need Better Information When Offered Lump Sums That Replace Their Lifetime Benefits

Participants Need Better Information When Offered Lump Sums That Replace Their L
Date Published: 
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Source/Author: 
Government Accountability Office (February 2015)

Since 2012, a number of large pension plan sponsors have given selected participants a limited-time option of receiving their retirement benefits in the form of a lump sum. Although sponsors' decisions to make certain lump sum “window” offers may be permissible by law, questions have been raised about participants' understanding of the financial tradeoffs associated with their choice. GAO was asked to review critical issues associated with these types of offers.

This report focuses on 1) the prevalence of lump sum offers and sponsors' incentives to use them, 2) the implications for participants, and 3) the extent to which selected lump sum materials provided to participants include key information. To conduct this work, GAO identified sponsors offering lump sum windows and used social media to identify participants given offers. GAO reviewed 11 informational packets acquired through interviews with selected plan sponsors and participants. GAO also analyzed lump sum calculations and interviewed federal officials and pension experts.

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