Portable Benefits

DEFINITION of 'Portable Benefits'

Benefits that have been paid into or accrued in an employer-sponsored plan and that can be transferred to a new employer's plan or to an individual who is leaving the workforce. Applies to benefits from health plans, retirement plans and most other defined-contribution plans.

Portability of benefits can be found within most 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).

BREAKING DOWN 'Portable Benefits'

There has been a lot of recent progress in making employee benefits more portable. 401(k) and 403(b) plans can usually be rolled into a new employer's plan or to an IRA; the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) even ensures that pre-existing medical conditions don't exclude a worker when moving from one group health plan to another.

The two main types of plans that don't have portable benefits are defined-benefit plans (such as pension plans) and company-sponsored flexible spending accounts (FSAs).