Say you work for a business that offers 401(k) plan. Investopedia says:
Under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the funds in your 401(k) only legally belong to you once you withdraw them as income. Until then, they're legally the property of the plan administrator—your employer—who cannot release them to anyone but you.
This ERISA protection means that savings held in a regular 401(k) are shielded from garnishment by commercial creditors, even if you file for bankruptcy.
Here's the bit I don't get: when we're talking about the portion of the 401(k) coming from employee contributions, is that portion protected identically to any portion that may come from matched employer contributions?
It would seem the answer is yes, but I'm trying to confirm this because it's not clear to me that "they're legally the property of the employer" is still an accurate premise for the portion of the 401(k) contributed by the employee... is that the case? (Links/citations would be appreciated.)