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If i quit my job can i cash out my 401k?

Nov 09, 2012 by MARQUEZ from Las Vegas, NV in  |  Flag
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8 votes

Yes you can "cash out" your 401k account. This is called a lump sum distribution. Note that you will likely need to complete distribution paperwork or contact your plan provider's 800 number to make your request. When you take a distribution like this, rather than rolling it over to an IRA or subsequent employer's retirement plan, you will be subject to ordinary income taxes and a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you are not yet age 59 1/2. Your employer will be required to withhold 20% of your account balance for taxes. I generally suggest the rollover option to avoid these taxes and penalties but understand that may not be an option. Remember you may not be entirely vested in all the money in your account depeding on whether your employer made contributions in the form of matching or profit sharing. You are always fully vested in your own payroll contributions. I hope this helps.

View all 14 Comments   |  Flag   |  Nov 09, 2012 from Wakefield, MA

I recently requested a hardship withdrawal where I would fall under the tuition catergory for the reason of assistance. I need help with my student loans from my previous education and they are asking for a bill with the amount, my name, the school etc. Do you think that I would still get approved if I send in my loans bill? It's also higher than my vested amount which is fine, but it's near impossible for me to currently afford, would this change anything?

Flag |  Aug 28, 2017

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Flag |  Dec 16, 2019

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5 votes

Yes, you have the ability to cash out your 401(k) account once you have terminated employment with that employer. Depending on your age, you may be subject to an early withdrawal penalty. I would also recommend review the plan vesting schedule, if there is one, to see how much of the employer contributions you are eligible to cash out.

If you do not need the funds, you may want to look at rolling the funds into an IRA or your new employer’s 401(k) plan, if they allow you to do so.

1 Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 16, 2012 from Shawano, WI

Tony, How are in-service withdrawals handled? I see on my 401k I have a significant amount i could take out as an "in-service" withdrawal. I'm sure the tax would be due, but a penalty too? The only reason I would consider this is to assist in the build of our retirement home which currently in-work in another state. Give I am considering leaving the company NLT Jan 2015 I'd rather not take on a 401k loan burden since I will have to maintain a rental in NJ until I retire.

Flag |  Sep 20, 2013

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Yes, once your employment is terminated, you can either withdraw the funds, transfer the funds to an Individual Retirement Account, or, if permitted by your new employer's qualified retirement plan, transfer the funds to your new employer's qualified retirement plan. Depending on your age and the nature of your 401k plan, there may be income tax and penalties incurred with the withdrawal option.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 09, 2012 from Morristown, NJ

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Yes, you sure can. But you will pay income taxes and possibly early withdrawal penalties if you are under age 59 1/2. Unlike a pension, you can access your 401(k) account balance when you separate from your employer. So you can take it with you. But note that you can only access that portion of the 401(k) plan account that you have a vested interest in: Your elective contributions - what you contributed from your paycheck - are yours plus the earnings, interest or capital gains; any company match may be subject to a vesting schedule.

You're better off rolling the account to an Individual Retirement Account in your name or your new employer's 401(k) plan. It's best to do this through a direct "trustee-to-trustee" transfer so you don't risk getting a check, cashing it and then having to pay the taxes and penalties noted above.

1 Comment   |  Flag   |  Nov 10, 2012 from Amesbury, MA

Hello Steve, I am 100% vested in my 401k. Does this mean I am able to withdraw all of it once i am no longer employed with my company? Of course I understand there are penalties.

Flag |  Aug 29, 2017 near Walton, KY

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