Alan Pyke of ThinkProgress.org reviews the shrinking benefits of the 401(k) system after the recent announcement by AOL that the company will only provide matching funds to employees in one lump sum payment at the end of the year.
In his article, "One Sneaky Corporate Trick Will Make Your Retirement More Insecure," he states, "The change means that workers lose the flexibility and portability that the 401(k) system of accounts provides, which has long been seen as a bright spot for workers in a dim overall system."
He includes my comment, "This move exposed the fatal weakness of the program and paves the way for all of us to think about a better system. The system enables employers to allow workers to contribute to a plan, but it in no way obligates them to make a match."
Pyke adds, "If even workers who are lucky enough to receive matching funds from an employer like AOL or IBM are having the value of that voluntary employer contribution undermined, then the myths about the 401(k) system are harder for financial advisers to maintain."
After much backlash, AOL retracted its decision and reinstated its former 401(k) policy matching contributions on a per-period basis rather than an annual lump sum. For more on AOL's redaction and what it means for retirement security, listen to my interview on NPR's Morning Edition segment, AOL Reverses Changes to Retirement Contribution.