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Retirement Account Balance Affects Rollovers: EBRI

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The larger the retirement account, the more likely a worker will keep the money entirely in other tax-qualified savings instruments upon leaving an employer, a study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute finds.

EBRI’s study of U.S. Census Bureau data for 2006 showed that most workers with balances under $20,000 when they left a job did not roll over all the money into tax-qualified instruments, such as 401(k)s, IRAs and annuities. For instance, among those with balances under $500, just 17% rolled over their distributions exclusively to other tax-qualified retirement vehicles. Among those with retirement savings totaling $10,000 to $19,999, 46.5% rolled over all the savings into other tax-qualified accounts.

But among departing workers with accounts of $20,000 to $49,999, 52.5% moved all the money into other qualified retirement vehicles, EBRI reports. And for recipients with distributions of $50,000 or more, 72% of rolled over all the money into other retirement savings vehicles.