Your 401(k) When Switching Jobs

Introduction

When you change jobs, you may have several choices regarding your company's retirement plan savings:

  • leave the money where it is, if your former employer has these provisions in its 401(k) plan
  • roll it over into an IRA or into your new employer's retirement plan
  • receive it in hand to spend or invest

If your account balance is at least $1,000, the 401(k) plan may rollover your entire account balance automatically to a designated IRA unless you elect to have the distribution transferred to a different IRA or retirement plan, or to receive it directly. If your account is worth more than $5,000, the plan cannot pay out your account balance until you tell the plan administrator you want the money—in other words, when you consent to the distribution. So be sure to fill out your plan's 401(k) final distribution form if you want to take the money with you. If you decide to leave the money in the plan, you can do so at least until the later of the age specified in the plan or age 70½, when you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

SUGGESTION: If you are required to take a total distribution, you can roll over the money into a traditional IRA or your new employer's retirement plan. You can continue where you left off in saving for your retirement.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There may be a fee involved if you leave the money in your former employer's 401(k) plan. Be sure to check with the plan administrator before making your decision.

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