Treasury Department Assistant Secretary Mark Iwry said the Obama Administration wants to encourage consolidation of retirement savings.
The goal is to have defined contribution plans, defined benefit plans and individual retirement accounts joined in one pool of money or together in a list that workers can readily see.
“In the next few years, we will find a way to do it,” Iwry told the annual conference of the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries in suburban Washington, D.C.
The Treasury official is aiming for more Americans to have at least some lifetime income from their employers and personal retirement savings. This is a major objective of the Treasury and Labor departments' proposal in the last several days to make annuities acceptable in target-date funds that are qualified default investment options.
It is an option plan sponsors have been seeking for years.
But Employee Benefits Research Institute President and Chief Executive Officer Dallas Salisbury says the most optimistic projections are that a third of American workers would opt to put all or some of their 401(k) savings into annuities, while EBRI’s own research puts the figure at 15 percent.
Salisbury cautioned even that lower number may be too high.
Looking more broadly at retirement security, the EBRI chief said policy makers and individuals have to look at Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, workplace retirement programs and personal savings holistically.
They have to realize there is only a limited amount of money governments can spend on safety nets for the elderly and only so much that people are willing to save when their first priority is to provide for their current needs, he said.