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​Will This Year’s ‘Lost-and-Found’ Bill Find its Way into Law?


Bipartisan legislation creating a national lost-and-found database to help plan participants keep track of their retirement accounts has been introduced once again, but the bill’s prospects may be different this year. 

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) reintroduced the bipartisan Retirement Savings Lost and Found Act of 2021 on May 21. The bill would create a national, online lost and found for retirement accounts by using data employers are already required to report to the Treasury Department. The senators first introduced the bill in 2016 and have reintroduced it in each Congress ever since. 

Citing data from TIAA, the sponsors note that an estimated 30% of employees have left a retirement account at their previous employer, including 43% of Gen Xers and 35% of Gen Yers. Warren and Daines note that the median job tenure for workers between 25 and 34 is less than three years, so workers could accumulate many different employer-sponsored retirement accounts throughout their working careers. They further cite data by the Government Accountability Office showing that between 2004 and 2014, separated employees left more than 16 million accounts of $5,000 or less in workplace plans, with an aggregate value of $8.5 billion.

In addition to the national lost and found, the legislation would:  

  • make it easier for plan sponsors to move small accounts into target date funds, rather than money market funds; and  
  • require plan sponsors to send lost, uncashed checks of less than $1,000 to the Office of Retirement Savings Lost and Found so that individuals can locate this money and continue to save for their retirement.

So what’s increasing the chances that this legislation may be enacted this year? A similar provision establishing a lost-and-found database was included in the SECURE Act 2.0 legislation that was approved by the House Ways & Means Committee on May 5 and is currently awaiting approval by the House of Representatives. In addition, the Retirement Security and Savings Act of 2021 introduced May 21 by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) also includes a lost-and-found provision. 

Together, these bills are expected to formulate an eventual unified, bipartisan bill that is ultimately approved by Congress and enacted into law.