You don't have to wait for contact from anyone. You can call the 401k provider to get the ball rolling. Some will even allow you to do the transaction online or over the phone. You should consider rolling your 401k assets into another 401k plan or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). If you take a cash distribution prior to age 59 1/2 you will receive a penalty of 10% of the assets for taking an early distribution on top of any taxes you may owe. Not to mention you will have to start over on your savings plan for retirement. Happy Retirement Planning!
This depends on whether you are requesting money as an employee in the form of a hardship withdrawal or loan or, on the other hand, as a former employee who is asking for your funds to be distributed to you, either in a check or directly rolled over to another plan or IRA.
Which of these is your situation?
In any case, how quickly you will get a distribution varies by the plan and what it has listed in the plan document. This is summarized for you in the Summary Plan Description (SPD) which you should have received when you were hired or when the 401k was first put in place, if that was after your hire date. You can get a copy of the SPD by calling your customer service number for the 401k or by calling your HR Dept.
Some plans will distribute money quickly, others will wait until the next distribution period as listed in the SPD. Some plans are still only valued quarterly rather than daily and will have to wait until after the next valuation date.
So, there is no universal answer to your question, other than, "it depends on your plan." Again, you can find this info in the SPD.
Just a quick addition - don't forget about processing and mail time. It might take 2-4 weeks to get a check if they need to mail it to you.
Rafael, call the plan administrator, You will probably need a distribution form. It may need to be signed off by your former employer. If you call Human Resources, be nice to them. I have had several experiences where clients have gotten angry with the speed of HR to get the form back.
Signing a distribution form for a former employee is very close to priority 0 for HR, and if you get the wrong person mad at you, particularly in smaller firms, it can take forever to get it back.