What is Auto Portability?

Auto portability is the automatic movement of a terminated participant’s small balance account (under $5,000, increasing to $7,000 effective 12/31/23) from a former employer’s retirement plan to an active account at a new employer’s plan, when a participant changes jobs. Auto portability, delivered through the Portability Services Network and PSN member recordkeepers, makes small-balance, plan-to-plan portability a new default plan feature.

Auto Portability was conceived and developed by Retirement Clearinghouse to serve the needs of participants that are subject to the mandatory distribution provision of their employer-sponsored plan to curb the unprecedented levels of cash out leakage occurring as participants change jobs, and is designed to work within the existing infrastructure and data flows of the qualified employer plan system.

Job ChangersAmerica’s workforce is more mobile than ever before, but its members’ need to keep their savings intact, and move them forward as they change jobs, is not being met. The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) estimates that the average 401(k) plan participant will have 9.9 jobs over their working career, which translates into an estimated 14.8 million workers with retirement accounts changing jobs each year. Of these, 5.3 million of these participants (36% of annual job changers) have less than $5,000 in their account at the time of their job-change, and are subject to a mandatory distribution from their former retirement plan into a Safe Harbor IRA. Over 54% of these small-balance accounts will cash out in year 1, and 75% by year 7.

Auto portability changes the dynamic for these participants by making the easiest decision (preserving retirement savings by automatically moving them forward within the defined contribution system) the best decision.

How Does Auto Portability Work? Watch the Video.

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