Employers continue to move from traditional defined benefit pension plans providing monthly payments to 401(k) plans and other defined contribution plans providing lump-sum cash distributions. As a result, increasing numbers of retirees, now including baby boomers leaving the workplace, are faced with managing a cash distribution for 20 or 30 years and possibly running out of funds. Uncertain markets have made plan participants wary of their ability to maintain their nest eggs.
For several months, the Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor have been exploring ways to provide “income-stream” options for more retirement plan participants. The agencies have focused on finding a balance between lump-sum cash distributions (which provide liquidity) and lifetime-income options.
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