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Many Departing Workers Cash Out Plans: Hewitt

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Increased efforts to warn Americans about the harmful financial consequences of cashing out their 401(k) plans have had little impact in changing their behavior, a new study by Hewitt Associates shows.

Hewitt, Lincolnshire, Ill, a human resources consulting company, reports that in 2008, 46% of workers took a cash distribution from their 401(k) plan when they left their job, a figure that the company says has remained virtually unchanged since 2005.

Hewitt’s study of 170,000 401(k) participants who terminated employment during 2008 shows that 25% of employees either rolled over their money to a qualified IRA or other retirement plan and 29% kept their savings in their prior employer’s 401(k) plan.