The typical American worker stays at a job for only four years.As many find out, switching employers can wreak havoc on yourretirement plan.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates two in fiveemployees cash out small 401(k) balances when theyleave their jobs. In the process, they pay taxes and penaltieswhile never giving their money a chance to grow. Or, workers canend up accumulating a collection of 401(k) plans throughout theircareers, with small balances spread out at various old employers.It’s a huge hassle to roll those old 401(k)s into a current 401(k)or into an individual retirement account, and it’seasy to lose track of what you’ve saved, and where.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, the voluble Democrat fromMassachusetts, thinks we need a “Retirement Savings Lost andFound.” Along with Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines, Warrenon Tuesday introduced a bill that would create a database of yourold retirement accounts. The bill would also allow abandonedretirement accounts to be invested in target-date mutual funds, anincreasingly popular option that invests in a mix of stocks andbonds based on a participant’s age and retirement date. Rightnow, many stranded 401(k) accounts end up in cash, where theirvalue is steadily eroded by inflation.

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