Stock-market losses amid the financial crisis have blitzed Americans' retirement plans.

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Stock-market losses amid the financial crisis have blitzed Americans’ retirement plans. A look at the effects and a proposed solution:

How have retirement plans been hurt?

Stock held by private pension plans lost nearly $1 trillion in value in the year ending Oct. 9, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. For 401(k) and individual retirement accounts, which have about half their assets in stocks, losses in the past year have wiped out an estimated $2 trillion in value.

Pension plans sponsored by the 1,500 biggest U.S. companies hit a record funding deficit of $280 billion at the end of November, says consulting firm Mercer.

What are corporations doing?

Some companies, such as General Motors and Frontier Airlines Holdings, are suspending or reducing 401(k) matching contributions to conserve cash.

What about on the pension front?

Several hundred corporations — including Ford Motor, IBM, Pfizer and Verizon Communications — are pushing Congress to change a 2006 pension reform law. That law requires them to bring pensions up to full funding in seven years. Doing so could force them to cut jobs, they say.

How has Congress responded?

Senators from both parties recently proposed legislation that would provide relief (see right). It hasn’t yet been voted on by either the Senate or the House.