“Lump-Sum Distributions at Job Change, Distributions Through 2012,” and “Views on the Value of Voluntary Workplace Benefits: Findings from the 2013 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey”

November 2013, Vol. 34, No. 11
Paperback, 24 pp.
PDF, 907 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2013

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Executive Summary

Lump-Sum Distributions at Job Change, Distributions Through 2012



  • What workers choose to do with their retirement plan assets upon job change can profoundly affect their financial resources in retirement, particularly in the case of younger workers and those with large balances. Since a common option is to take all the assets as a lump-sum distribution (LSD), a key question is whether participants roll their retirement assets over to another tax-qualified savings vehicle (such as an IRA), retain it in other savings, or use it for consumption.
  • The average amount of LSDs in 2012 dollars was $20,781, with a median (mid-point) amount of $12,355. In terms of the value at the time of the distributions, the average amount was $15,934 and the median amount was $10,000.
  • Preservation of benefits appears to have improved after 1986, with some evidence it has continued to improve through 2012. Moreover, recipients who did not use their LSD for tax-qualified savings were more likely to use it to improve their financial condition, paying down debt or buying a home, rather than spending it on pure consumption.

Views on the Value of Voluntary Workplace Benefits: Findings from the 2013 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey



  • More than three-quarters of employees state that the benefits package an employer offers prospective employees is extremely (33 percent) or very (45 percent) important in their decision to accept or reject a job.
  • Nevertheless, 31 percent are only somewhat satisfied with the benefits offered by their current employer, and 26 percent are not satisfied.
  • Eighty-eight percent of employees report that employer-provided health insurance is extremely or very important, far more than for any other workplace benefit.
  • Employees identify lower cost (compared with purchasing benefits on their own) and choice as strong advantages of voluntary benefits. However, they are split with respect to their comfort in having their employer choose their benefits provider, and think the possibility that they may have to pay the full cost of any voluntary benefits is a disadvantage.