Does My Employer Have Control Over My 401k?

So you’ve set up your 401(k) with your employer’s administrator, made your allocation choices, and everything is set to go. You’ve got this retirement saving thing by the tail, right?

Not so, Mona Me. (or is that mon ami?) Or at least not completely so. You see, way back in the bad old 2006’s (before all the hope and change), Congress passed the Pension Protection Act, which had a provision in it that allows employers to automatically enroll employees in retirement plans, and even make default investment choices for them.

Doesn’t apply to me, right? Since I enrolled on my own and made my own choices for allocation of my investments… right? Once again, Mona, you’re not completely correct.

The Most Common Change

The plan sponsor (your employer) can make changes to the funds available for investment choices at any time. So, instead of that no-load broad market fund that you originally chose, now you have a loaded (yes I know they’re usually waived loads in 401(k)’s) high expense ratio fund that doesn’t really accurately represent the total domestic equity market very well.

And your employer can make this change any time they want – maybe it’s to get their son-in-law an additional commission since he sold the plan. But then again, maybe it’s just because the bossman read an article that said A shares were superior to all other investments, or something equally idiotic.

The Other Kind

Another possible way that your employer could change your allocation plan in your 401(k) account is if it was determined that your account wasn’t diversified enough. Seems pretty big-brotherish, but it’s still a possibility – although according to this article in the WSJ, “So far, plan sponsors aren’t re-enrolling just because they think a participant isn’t properly diversified…”.

Default investments can be changed on a whim as well – from a basic money market account to, perhaps, a costly stable-value insurance product. And when these choices are changed, your money is automatically moved.

The Bottom Line

So – the watchword you should take away from this is that you need to pay close attention to communications that you company sends you regarding your retirement plan. None of these changes can be made without communicating the change to you in advance – but if you are like most folks when you get that pack of paper and the book written on recycled cigarette paper, the last thing you want to do is sit down and study it over, right Mona?

Particularly pay close attention when your company sends you a letter explaining any changes to the plan. These are supposed to be concise and easy-to read, so watch for them. Usually when funds are going to be automatically moved you’ll get some notice in advance so that you can choose something different from the default. This may be helpful, or it may not – but you’ll be in a position to have better control over your fund.

About the author

Jim Blankenship, CFP®, EA

Jim Blankenship is the founder and principal of Blankenship Financial Planning, Ltd., a financial planning firm providing hourly, as-needed financial planning and advice. A financial services professional for over 25 years, Jim is a CFP professional and has earned the Enrolled Agent designation, a designation that qualifies him as enrolled to practice before the IRS. Jim is also a NAPFA-registered financial advisor, which designates him as a Fee-Only Financial Advisor.

An IRA Owner’s Manual
A Social Security Owner’s Manual

342 Comments

Leave a comment
  • Hello,

    My mother’s company was just bought out. They are making them roll over their 401K to another company but are not allowed to touch it but the new company is not offering any replacement retirement plan. How is this legal? Should they not be allowed to roll it over so they can keep adding to it?

    Thanks
    Michelle Tidwell

  • After I left my previous employer due to layoff I had to take a hardship loan at 100%. I would receive a monthly statement from the 401k provider, a couple of years later I tried to close and cash out the account, so I filled out the paperwork, contacted the 401k admin and was told the process was going on. 4 days passed by and I was concerned so I contacted the 401k provider about the inquiry they had told me that my previous employer said it was their money and I would have to contact my previous employer to dispute if I felt their was an error. If I don’t work for them anymore and I receive a monthly statement why isn’t it my money and why do I keep getting a monthly statement even though I don’t work for them anymore?

  • I would like to know why I can’t withdrawal a certain amount of money from my 401I? Don’t owe any money on a loan and I’m 63yrs old. Not understanding I’m resticted but my other employees are not.

  • I have a percentage of income taken from my paycheck that goes toward a 401(k) set up by my employer. There is no company match, just money I’ve contributed.

    Our Quarterly statements are sent out to us from the financial company managing the 401(k), John Hancock, only after our company representative gives them approval to do so. Many times I don’t see a Quarterly statement until 60 days after the end of the Quarter, which is about 45 days longer than it takes every other financial institution I have investment/retirement accounts with to send theirs.

    I’ve called John Hancock and have been told by their Customer Service that they cannot send the statements (nor publish them on their website) until given the “OK” by someone within our company. This seems very strange to me. When I ask our HR folks why this is the way it is, they don’t give me an answer other than “we’ll approve the latest statement be sent ASAP.” Are you familiar with such a set-up where Quarterly statements are not sent out automatically at the end of each Quarter?

    • No, I have not heard of this before. I think you’re right to investigate – there may be a very plausible reason, although I can’t think of one off-hand. The company has no ownership over these funds if they’re all your own salary deferrals and no matching, making a review and signoff quite unusual – but perhaps there’s something we’re overlooking. Keep digging!

  • My husband has a large 401K cash balance. We’ve had to take a small hardship loan. We were told when taking the loan that it would be 2-5 business days before we would actually have the funds in hand. Today is business day 6 & so we called. They said that his employer required their stock be sold to pay for the loan instead of using his cash balance & it will be at least another 5 business days. Apparently this is legal. Had we been told this, he could have dumped the stock 1st in a few hours. If we hadn’t called, we still wouldn’t know about this rule or what was happening. I suspect that this is being done to delay withdrawals as long as possible as we all know every day they have possession of the money, they earn interest.

    My question is this: Don’t they have to communicate with you when there’s any changes? I mean, I saw the “you will have your loan proceeds in 2-5 business days” (no *) that came up as part of the confirmation of the loan request as a contract. If that changes, they should be required to say so. Am I just being too “rose colored glasses” expecting people to be as “up front & honest” as we are?

    • BTW, the funds are gone from his account & the loan is listed as active (I could click on & actually make an extra payment or pay off the loan), but when we click on “payments made to you” there’s nothing listed for this year at all as even being sent (direct deposit) to our bank. I see that as deceptive…

  • My Employer has a 401K plan with an ESOP option to purchase shares of the company. An employee was terminated about 14 months ago and all of a sudden the employer takes the money he had in their stock and redistributed it amongst other investments he had in the 401K. Supposedly the employer doesn’t want terminated employees owning stock. But is this legal? He wasn’t notified and he only found out by looking at his quarterly statement. He is considering getting an attorney and sue them if they don’t put the money back in the stock.

  • Can employers force terminated employees (with balances over $5k in the plan) out of the plan to stop having to pay the administrative fees? Is there any IRS or ERISSA regulations to stop employers from removing terminated employees with over $5k in balances?
    Thank you for your advice.

    • I doubt if there is an explicit method to push out ex-employees, that seems counter to the DOL protections to employees. As you allude, there is a way to do this if the plan balance is under $5,000, but above that it’s unlikely that there is an option available.

  • My husband changed jobs and is in the process of cashing out his 401k. All papers have been filled out, notarized and returned to his ex employer. All online filings have been completed. The only step left is for his company to sign the paper acknowledging his termination. How long do they have to do this? His plan allows for a full cash out upon leaving the company.

      • That’s what I thought. =( He tried to leave on good terms, but the company is rather upset at his departure, so it’s probably a waiting game at this point. Could you tell me what you would consider an ample amount of time before contacting Voya, (they have the 401k), or DOL or if necessary, legal counsel? Voya has confirmed that our plan allows immediate release upon termination. And thank you for your time and advice. It is greatly appreciated.

  • I was terminated and asked for my 401k to be withdrawn, 9 days later my former employer has not notified principle financial of my discharge, how do i get them to dispence my money

      • I have left 3 messages with my previous employer, they refuse to return my calls or notify the plan administrator, I feel at this point they are delaying this because I have a case with DOL for terminating me while on FMLA, is there any law or legal issue i can follow?

        • If you aren’t willing to give it some more time, you should contact an attorney that is skilled in labor issues and get their recommendation for next action. If it was me, I’d wait and continue the attempts at contacting your former employer. As I mentioned, this often takes time to accomplish – and attorneys are expensive.

  • I no longer work for my former employer. I had my former 401k plan rolled over to my new employer’s 401k plan. My former employee has mailed me a form stating they are having their annual audit and want me to provide info to the auditing entity. I feel I am under no obligation to provide this information because my plan is no longer with them, and I am no longer emoloyed by them. They have now sent me a “second notice”. Am I legally obligated to provide this info?

    • It’s doubtful that you are required to send the information, but you might just call the plan administrator to check on it. There’s always the possibility that there is some sort of error in the records that could be in your favor (or not in your favor!).

  • Hello – Part of my hourly pay in health and wellness. That $4 an hour my employer forced us into a 401k plan with John Hancock. We did not want this plan, but there was nothing we can do about it. I’m needing surgery and needing to withdraw some of my money out of the 401k. John Hancock says to contact my employer for some form. However my employer says I can’t withdraw til I’m no longer employed here. Is that legal?

  • I was laid off by my employer and offered severance pay and medical for three months. This evening, I logged into my 401k account and find they funded over $2k of “Discretionary/Profit Sharing”. What exactly is that? I wasnt told this would be taking place so worry it was a mistake i may one day need to pay back.

    New Jersey Resident

  • My Employer set up Profit sharing through my 401k. He told me at the end of the year how much I was going to receive. We are now July of 2017 and he still hasn’t put the funds in my account. I call the company and they say you have to speak with the Administrator. Im getting no where. How do I know if he put my profit sharing in his taxes. Is there anything I can do?

    • It’s up to your employer to determine whether or not there will be a profit share distributed to employee accounts. At this point it seems as if your employer decided not to distribute the profit share for last year.

      Your only recourse is to talk to your employer and find out what really happened with what he promised you.

  • I rolled over my 401K from a previous employer, and now when I try to take a withdrawl, for home repairs that are needed, they say that i cannot….BUT….i rolled over about $65,000 from my previous employer, whom let me withdraw or take a loan…no questions asked, they gave me FULL ACCESS to MY money. Can I still make a withdrawl from that money that i rolled over, before the company i am in now started contributing. I don’t think its fair that a company holds on to money that they never contributed to.

    Thank You

    • Unfortunately this is a downside to rolling over your money into a new employer’s 401k plan: you are restricted from accessing the rolled over funds by the same rules as your own contributions to the new employer’s plan.

      For this reason it most often makes sense to rollover the old 401k plan into an IRA. This will give you some additional control over the account – not quite like your particular old employer, since loans are not available from an IRA, but still you have much more control than with another employer.

  • I have been investing in my company’s 401k program for the last 8 yrs. When I first started investing, we were using ING and since changed to Voya. When signing up, we were told “the government had placed really strenuous conditions on withdrawing from your acct.” Thus I moved forwarded w no issues. Until I recently decided I wanted to take a loan (Im 100% vested) against my money so that I would pay myself back plus the 5% interest. I fill out the paperwork, submit and then the bottom fell out. It was at this time, I spoke w 2 separate Voya reps who advised that my company had placed restrictions on my acct and that I could only take a “hardship loan.” I advised I didn’t have a hardship and I just wanted to consolidate a few bills. I was advised I only had 2 options, I could stop investing in the program and start my own separate fund or I could quit my job if I absolutely had to access my funds. Voya advised this was the doings of my company and the rep said he honestly couldn’t understand why the company would want their employees to be in a hardship situation instead of allowing a loan to keep the employee from a hardship situation. I spoke w my HR dept and they advised this was not their doing but the governments. Voya clarified again, this was the company’s decision. Is there anything that I can do being that we, as a company, were told the restrictions in place were done so by the government when in all actuality….the company was the one behind the decision. Even our Voya rep that came out for new enrollment a month ago stated “there are ways to withdraw from your acct, though it is highly discouraged. We won’t go into to all that today but know there are ways.” It’s like they didn’t want us to know all the info. Now I’m stuck w money I’ve saved for yrs that I have absolutely no access to. The feeling of deceit and frustration is beyond measureable.

    Any and all suggestions and advice is greatly appreciated!

    Rachael

    • There are government restrictions but there are legal methods to access funds (via a loan) IF your company allows. In your case, it sounds as if your company does not allow loans other than hardship situations. As the Voya rep indicated, you can quit the company – that’s really your only choice to access the funds. And in that case you couldn’t take a loan, you’d have to take a distribution from a rolled over IRA, which would be taxed and likely penalized.

      You can petition your employer to change the rules, but other than that, you’re stuck.

  • I have been putting money into my Simple IRA through my employer, which has been deducted from my pay. However, my employer has not deposited the deducted money into my IRA. From what I have read on irs.gov she is required to put it in within 30 days. That is not being done. I have asked multiple times and heard different excuses.
    Also, the match from 2016 is still not in my account. When I asked, my employer said it is not due until she finishes her taxes Sept. 15. (even though she made a comment a couple weeks ago about being glad that taxes are over). I am not feeling good about this situation. The reason I opened this account was to get the match. Is there a way she can get out of paying me the match? I know 401ks have a vestment period but I have not seen one for a simple IRA.
    I realize it is definitely illegal to not input the portion of my salary that was deducted, but I’m guessing she may assume it is not worth the court costs to fight for it. Please advise. Thanks!

  • Why can’t someone who has terminated employment get access to his 401K? He terminated 12/31/16 and was told he couldn’t get access to it until 4/1/17. I find that a red flag. But now is being put off again. Another red flag. I would think that once terminated you should be able to access those funds. Is there something I’m missing?

  • Hi Jim, I drive a dump truck in the construction trade, I work prevailing wage jobs often but am not union, up until about 3 yrs ago my employer paid me the fringe benifits pay that’s included in prevailing wage jobs directly on my check, the last 3 years my employer has deposited the fringe benifit amount in a 401k account and Im told I have no choice about this. Is this correct? I have no choice about this 401k? My employer contributes nothing in it. What benifit to the company is this 401k? Last quarter I lost nearly $700 and its invested in a presumably safe 15yr investment plan. Looking for better options with MY money!!

    • I think you should start asking questions about this. If it’s a 401k then *your* contributions should be your choice – not your employer’s choice. If they are considered company contributions, that’s another story.

  • Jim… I left a company in 2010 and left the 401k in place (managed by John Hancock). This 401k has a profit sharing portion, of which I was 80% vested when I left. The president of the company is still the “administrator”. Everything has been fine for the past 7 years.

    Last quarter, the Administrator extracted over $4,100 from the profit sharing portion of my 401k without my knowledge, thus dropping my 80% allocation by over $3,000. Is it typical, or even legal, for the Administrator to remove a profit sharing allocation years after is was given? I know the company has hit hard times recently, so the president may be getting desperate. What should I do?

    Thanks in advance. – Christian

  • I received notice that I am an HCE and that my 401K would be refunded back to me. My question is how long can they hold this before paying me back. It has been a few months and they just sent this message

    ” At this time they are on hold until we can confirm that John Hancock can process the refunds correctly. We are currently working with John Hancock to do so and as I get more information and updates I will let you know. Unfortunately I cannot provide you with a timeframe.”

    They have already withdrawn my employers full contributions and paid them out. I am frustrated that they have control of my money, money that is not earning! I show in my account that there was a class conversion transaction last month also.

    My questions is what rights do I have on getting my money distributed to me? How are that able to distribute my employers contributions but hold mine? Please help

    • I am in the same situation. It has been 2 months and they still have my money during which I have forgone thousands of dollars as the stock market continues to rise.

      I wish some labor attorney would start a class action law suit to stop this nonsense.

  • Okay, I am on long term disability from my current employer. I am trying to take early withdrawal from an old employers 401K plan for reasons of disability. They are saying that this is not possible and that I am also unable to roll it into an IRA. They have sent me a letter stating I can get an early retirement amount form my 401K of $107 dollar a month only. Is this legal or do I need to lawyer up and get my money the hard way?

    Overwhelmed

    • If you’re no longer with the employer, you should be able to roll it over. However, if you’re on disability you’re likely technically still considered an employee, which would explain the restrictions on your access to the plan.

  • I signed up for a percent to be withheld and contribute to my 401K per pay period. As my wage increased the amount of contribution did not as it should have.
    My employer will not do anything to correct this. What are my options?

    • Ask the administrator to correct their error. This will require your employer to correct payroll as well. If you can’t get them to do this, you could either just let it go and increase your contribution now, or you can hire an attorney to help you get the point across to the administrator and your employer that they have made a mistake.

  • I signed up for a percentage to be contributed to the 401K plan. As my wage increased the payroll clerk did not increase the amount of contribution.
    What can I do about that now?

  • Hi I recently asked for a 401k loan and now my Loan sponsor is saying a bylaw that I have to be working full time not per diem to take loan is this accurate?

  • I maybe leaving my current employer. They said they will with hold 20%. The norm is 10%. Is that something I can legally request or if I roll over to IRA will they still with hold? Also, where can I find a previous 401 K from a bank merger? Thank you!

    • If you’re cashing out your 401k, 20% withholding is the standard – it’s the law. If you’re rolling over into another deferred account (IRA, 401k, 403b, etc.), there is no withholding. The 20% is not negotiable for a non-rollover withdrawal.

      WRT the previous 401k, you’ll need to check with the custodian of the plan.

  • A part owner of my company was the 401k investor. Is that legal? I am also wondering how would I go about auditing my 401K account. After 15 years of investing with my company’s 401K I actually lost 745$ in my account (value was approx. $150,000) The statements were set up a way to make it unclear as to the % of gains and losses. Needless to say I feel like I will now be working forever to make up for the poor management/oversight of my account.

  • I Received a call from HR telling me I will be getting a check in the mail for an amount I had been investing in my 401 k. I asked why and their response was because I picked a plan that not many other employees picked and it was not fair for them that I would get so much back in return. I asked if it could be transferred to another plan and they told me no. That I would get the check and a 1099 r next year to report in my taxes. Is this normal?

  • My employer went months on end without putting my funds into my 401 k plan. Then put in what was missed but how do I calculate how much lost during that time?

  • My employer went months on end without putting my funds into my 401 k plan. Then put in what was missed but how do I calculate how much lost during that time?

  • My employer is changing from Mass Mutual to Voya. I I have a little over 5k in my 401K.

    If for a few reasons I didn’t want to do business with Voya, What options do I have.

    What happens to the funds in a 401k if you personally don’t want to make the switch to a new company.

    I was going to take a loan out to go towards a down payment for a home. Mass Mutual said I could but Voya told me I have to wait until I’m 55 or some one dies.

  • My husband has a self-directed account through Fidelity under his former Employer’s 401(k). The Employer forced us to sell a security under that account at a major loss (in the neighborhood of $10,000). The security is considered a Limited Partnership and his employer will not allow them in the plan due to it generating unrelated business taxable income (UBTI). Our plan was to hold it for at least a year and re-assess selling it at that time. They gave us about 60 days to sell it – which we did at a significant loss. Of course now that security is way up and we’d be in good shape had we been able to keep it.

    Other than the notice that we had to sell it or it would be sold for us, there were no other means of communications on behalf of Fidelity or his employer that this type of security was off limits to the plan. I have started to seek counsel from an attorney, but would like your opinion as to whether or not you think we have a case of recouping our loss due to a lack of notice or other reason. Appreciate your help.

  • I had two plans with my company, just due to mergers and company’s name changes. The first one was locked down so I couldn’t contribute to it anymore and the others one was active. It has been this way since 2003. Then last week I logged in and saw $0.00 in my first plan and no increase in the active one. I panicked and TRowe agent was very helpful, concerned and investigated. They said my company had merged the plans and it takes time for the dollars to move. My question is shouldn’t my company notified me of this?? Thank you….

  • Hello,

    It is possible for a previous employer to request the account of a previous employee be closed with no knowledge to the previous employee?

    • Yes, especially if they have lost contact with the previous employee. Generally these accounts are turned over to the state’s “lost account” division.

      If that’s not the case, it is also possible for the employer to close an account if it’s under a certain amount (I think $5,000?). Otherwise, they would need to roll over the account to an IRA in the name of the employee. But usually there is communication about any of these distributions.

      • The account had an amount higher than $5000 and the employer had all contact information for us. The only thing different was we moved. Actually, my husband still visits some employees there and has spoken to the owner many times. They closed the account which issued a distribution which created a 1099, but because of the address change we didn’t receive the check or the 1099, so we are in trouble with the IRS ( Fantastic). I didn’t think anyone could make those requests except us because of the tax penalties and such because we are under 65.

  • Hello Jim,
    are there and rules or laws allowing a person to get a distribution or close a 401k account while your off work because of a work related injury.
    The account manager for the 401k says they have asked my company to do the distribution because I have not received a paycheck in over six months.
    I have not received and workmans compensation revenue in over three months because we are fighting to add another body part to the w/c claim. I tried to get a hardship loan but it was denied there are no provisions I guess for a work related injury in the 401k guide lines for hardship.
    is there a way for me to get my money?

  • Jim,

    A department in my company went union. I elected not to join. All of a sudden my 401K was frozen and I can’t contribute to it anymore. I keep trying to get an answer from the administrator and all they tell me that that the Union has control. I don’t understand, I am not a union member. Where can I go for help.

    Thanks,

    Joe

  • Hi, my friend was terminated a couple weeks ago. His 401k has under $5000 in it and he needs to cash it out because he is unemployed. However, the former employer is saying he has to wait until the next calendar year (which is a whole year away!!!). I have never heard this, is this legal?

  • I left my previous employer over 2 years ago and in doing so I took the funds from my Merrill Lynch account and rolled them into a Fidelity account with my new employer. After the transfer my Merrill Lynch account still showed a balance of @ $6,000. When I contacted Merrill Lynch the told me that those funds where not mine and that they belong to the company. 2 years later and those funds are still in my account. Is it possible that those funds are my funds? And if so who would I contact? This employer is very shady and has screwed many employee’s out of money before.

    • If you were with the employer for less than 5 years it is possible (likely?) that there were matching funds that you were not vested in.

      The only way to know for sure is to follow the trail of money back to when it was deposited in the account (who’s contribution was it?) and see how the rules of the accounts apply to the deposits.

  • I’m wanting to cash out my 401k from my previous employer and they said I couldn’t because of my age. If I roll it over to my new job will the old job still have anything to do with what happens to it?

  • My company filed Chapter 11- has massive debt. What risk if any is my 401k in? The 401k is via a large Investment Financial services organization, however it is via my company. I know it’s illegal for my company to touch it- but my question is , is it possible? Have you ever heard of such a thing?

  • I requested that my profit sharing money from my former employer be a Direct Rollover into my Schwab IRA account. It has been over a week and a half and Schwab states they still have not received it. How long should that process take?

  • I was discharged from my joe February 2016. I requested my 401k payout and was told I had to wait until the end of the year. So I waited and called in December to start the process. It is now January 26, 2017 and when I called I was told it could be another 6 months before I get my money!! I have have 401k’s that I re wives money within 48 hours. Should I file a complaint with the securities administration? After all, they are withholding my money I invested!

  • I have over 3,900 in a company 401K plan. Ameritas…..I have not worked for the company for over 3 months. I have been trying to get my money, however, Ameritas, says my status is still “active” and they cannot release money until it is changed to “no longer works here”. My old employer wont change status.
    What can I do?

      • My step son is in the same situation. Surely there is a time limit that an employer has to report a “no longer works here”. If not, a vindictive ex-employer could essentially withhold a person’s money for “forever”.
        I am still researching the legalities of this, but one resource I know one can use is:

        Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). To find out which office you are serviced by, call 866.275.7922 or write them at:

        U.S. Department of Labor
        EBSA
        Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries
        Room N-5619
        200 Constitution Avenue N. W.
        Washington, D.C. 20210

  • I have a portion of my 401K that is in a self-directed account. My company is changing from plan administrator A to administrator B. As a part of this change I am being told the self-directed account will no longer be available. Can the company force me to sell all the stocks in my self directed account?

    What are my options? I don’t want to sell the assets in my self-directed account.

  • i have just discovered that my employer has not put the money he took out of my salary for an IR or his match of it , into my fund. What do I do first? Just now realized this.

  • Hello Mr. Blankenship,

    My wife was working at a previous employer from 2007-2012. For whatever reason she never addressed the 401k until she started a new job this past fall.

    Nonetheless, she contacted her previous employer and since it was some time ago, they asked her to contact Wells Fargo regarding her 401k.

    She got in contact with Wells Fargo and they said there is no money in the account. I understand that any funds matched could be taken away, however would have thought that any money that was contributed from her paychecks during her tenure should still be in-tact.

    The customer service representative stated she would put an investigation on my wife’s 401k and call as soon as they found out.

    What are your thoughts? Any other suggestions?

    Thank you.

    • My thoughts? If she has been deferring her own money into this account, there should be something left for her to rollover. Obviously something is wrong.

      Suggestions? I think you’re doing the right thing by working with the custodian to get a handle on what happened. Hopefully it’s just a clerical error and they find it asap. Otherwise, keep asking until you get a good answer…

  • I have a question concerning the “seamless” transfer from one provider to another of a 403B retirement account. My late wife’s employer switched providers at the beginning of 2016. Pre 2011 deposits were left with the former investment company, 2011 deposits and on were moved to the new investment company. The letter from her employer stated that transition was seamless and nothing was required from the participant (this was printed in bold after the “What is required from you” FAQ). My wife passed away very unexpectedly around 4 months ago and I am just now getting to the investment accounts because EVERYTHING else has been a complete nightmare. I called the investment company and they sent me a packet and to my surprise the funds are left to the Estate of my late wife. I called the investment company and was told that sometimes the beneficiaries do not transfer. This has caused a major headache and I would prefer to roll the retirement account in to something where I do not have to pay taxes or a penalty on it right now. If the funds go to the Estate I’m not sure exactly what will happen. Is there anyway to get the new investment company to honor the beneficiaries listed with the old investment company (which still has value because of the deposits pre 2011)?

    • First of all, my condolences on your loss.

      With regard to having the new company honor the old beneficiary information, there isn’t (to my knowledge) a legal requirement for this to happen, but I believe that if you have a conversation with the administrator of the new plan you may have some fortune in getting them to agree. Of course there’s no guarantee, but it’s definitely worth checking into.

      • Thank you Jim. That’s exactly what I did. I had to contact someone locally as the call centers will not speak to me. The old provider gave me the original beneficiary documents and explained that they should’ve transferred. I gave those to the new providers local rep and he is trying to correct it. It’s a catch 22 because they won’t speak to me because I’m not listed as a beneficiary but the beneficiary was not correctly transferred as we were told.
        Folks , always make sure your beneficiaries are up to date as well as your spouses. You never think it will happen at a young age but it can and if you are the surviving spouse your nightmare continues on.

        • Couldn’t agree more. You don’t know how many times I’ve asked a client to spot-check their beneficiary information, only to find it either missing or in at least one case, directed to the client’s ex-spouse (the plan had been in place for a long time).

      • Thanks again Jim. It took 9 months and a letter from an estate attorney but they finally decided to accept the designated beneficiaries. Unfortunately, I still had to contact the drones at the call center to clarify some things but it was worth it because it allowed me to roll the 403(b) funds in to my 401(k) tax free. The value of the account also increased a good bit over the last 9 months so that is an added bonus. One step closer to putting this behind me.

  • I work for a nursing home that’s is owned by a large health care company . they are in the process of selling their senior division (where i work) . during a facility meeting, we were told that of we were not vested in our employee contribution fidelity account, that they would withdraw those accounts and distribute funds to the individuals that are not vested since we did not choose to no longer to be employeed by them. Can they do this for us, or are they just saying what we want to hear?

    • Likely what is happening is that the retirement plan is terminating and you will have the opportunity to withdraw (rollover) the funds that you have deferred into the account. If you are vested in the employer funds you should have access to rollover those funds as well.

      However, I may not fully understand your situation so the above may be completely off base.

  • Hello I’m hoping you can help me understand a statement I received in the mail today from a third party company that has a business relationship with my former employer . I was laid off a little over 2 yrs ago from a independent medical facility that I worked for almost 7 yrs. Throughout my time I was never told or received any information about a pension, a 401k and/or profit sharing. On the contrary I my immediate supervisor had inform me that the company did not participate in any of the above. However today I received a statement for the first time and after over 2 yrs of being laid a 401k profit sharing for a time of 4 yrs of which 2 I no longer work there and there is a balance of 0 due to a small fee having to be paid which was slightly higher than the balance . I have never received anything nor signed anything nor contributed anything however it does have a percentage which my employer said he would give which from my research seems to be on the high side. Is he trying to cover up something else? Thank you

  • Good Afternoon … I changed jobs in Sept 2015, my new job only has open enrollment January after a year of employment. I am now eligible to contribute to my company 401k, I was going to roll over 18k from my previous employer and i checked my balance everything is fine. This past Friday, January 13, 2017 i received a letter from Penchecks Trust telling me my 401k has been moved to a Penchecks Trust Default IRA program. I have never heard of this company and I checked online and my complete 401k is still there no debits i called the 800 number and they said someone will need to call me back. I explained to them that i was under the impression when i left the company that as long as i had over $5k i would not have to move the 401k. I am confused is this a scam????

  • Hello, Thanks for putting this blog up. I hope you can help me too. I left my employer in December 2016. I reached out to cash in my 401k retirement and they told me the social didn’t match. I sent my identification to them and they said I would have to have my former employer correct their error and notify them. Well they (my former employer) are not responding to assist me. What should I do? Should the retirement (Transamerica) just correct it given the clear evidence? or am I at the will of my former employer to fix their mistake?

  • Jim –

    I have a friend who was recently let go from his job. He had a 401k w/the company. He went on-line to check the balance of his fund and it said $0. He called the investment company and found out the employer had requested his money be transferred to another investment company without even notifying him. He hasn’t even gotten any documentation to support this transaction. Is this legal – can an employer do this without even notifying the employee?

    What if my friend had wanted to roll it over somewhere else?

    Appreciate your feedback…

    • The employer should keep the employee in the loop about any changes of this nature. It’s possible (even likely) that there was a communication about this that your friend just didn’t recall receiving and/or didn’t read. On the other hand, sometimes employers do these things without telling anyone, which is not appropriate and could get them in some trouble. They don’t need his approval, but they do need to let him know it’s happening.

      Have your friend get in touch with the company to find out what’s going on.

  • We received a Bonus. The employer did not withhold any 401K.
    I thought the Employer was required to withhold the 401K percentage on any Wages. Only if I signed a waiver would they not take out 401K funds.
    Is this legal? Can they pick and choose to not take the funds out of checks?

    • I doubt if this was an intended act if the compensation type is eligible for deferral. Ask your HR folks about it, they might have made an error, or the compensation type is not considered eligible for deferral – or some other reason.

  • My employer puts a fixed percent of employees salary into retirement annually. The employer does not give any investment options to us. All they do is put into a CD at the bank and that is our rate of return. Which is pretty pathetic. Is it legal for an employer to control 100% of my money and not give me investment options for retirement? If not, where can I get documentation?

  • Jim,

    Thanks for your posting. I was surprised to read about my employer can control my allocations. My company is changing our plan administration from Mercer to Fidelity, and they decided to transfer monies from the old plan(Mercer) to single targeted fund in Fidelity based upon our current age, only allowing employees to change the allocation after about 3 weeks. This completely ignores the individual risk tolerance.

  • I was in the Union and left a year ago and I wanted to take my 401k out but they say that I can’t unless I stop doing my trade for a year, give them my W-2s and a letter from my employer stating that I didn’t do any plumbing and my employer cant be a plumbing shop. How can someone keep your money that you invested? How can they tell you that you have to do something else besides what you were trained to do in order to get my money out. They said it cant be rolled into anything either. They also said that I am not eligible to be a member in the 401k and cant make contributions either because I am not in the Union anymore. It doesn’t seem fair or right, especially when it should be my choice with my money.

  • I’m am trying to liquidate my 401k from my old company, they are with holding my money because I have an open workers compensation claim against them. The secretary is claiming I can’t withdraw the money because of the workers compensation claim. Mind you, I was injured and on workers comp when I took out my entire IRA. Im not receiving any money from workers comp anymore, I don’t believe they can keep my 401k due to workers comp to begin with. Any advice would be highly appreciated…
    Thank you

  • I recently started a 401K plan for my employees only (not me). I am unhappy with the company that sold me the plan, they are charging me more in fees than they promised in writing. After about 4 months of trying to get this thing corrected to no avail, I’m fed up. Can I cancel this plan and demand a refund of the overcharges? Thanks. — Bruce.

  • My company recently contracted Fidelity as our new plan administrator and sent out a 10 days short notice letter to employees forced to transfer into replacement mutual funds on early December. As a investors, we know most of mutual funds will distribute dividends (declaimed date) during December. I am very upset because I did not receive annul dividends that I could if transfer date on January. I understand every plan administrator has their investment choices available to plan participants. I want to ask how many days, by laws or regulations, employer has to notify employees when employer forces to transfer into replacement funds?

  • Hi,

    My employer has just merged with another entity and they’re choosing the other entity’s 401(k). Currently, our plan is managed by Fidelity and I really like them and my investment options with them. Can they force me to move my account? Is there any way I can keep my account at Fidelity?

  • Hello, my company is telling me that because I use my spouse’s health insurance, that the health and welfare allowance money must go to a 401k plan…previous companies would put that money into my take home pay…this current company says that there is a law in the affordable healthcare act that states 100% of h+w money not use with the company’s insurance offer must go to a 401k.. which I have still not received any information on..what should I do??

  • My father recently received a letter from a company claiming to be the manager of his 401k. They want him to start withdrawing/sending him monthly checks. Is this normal? I researched the company and they charge .04%-.06% of his total 401k to “manage” his funds. I always thought the only people that made money of your 401k was the IRS 🙂

    • If your father is no longer employed by that company and he has reached age 70 1/2, he will have to begin withdrawals from the account – perhaps that is what the letter is referencing.

      It is not unusual for a management company to charge a fee to manage the 401k plan. If that figure (0.04% to 0.06%) is an annual fee, that’s quite reasonable for the industry.

  • I have a 401k with about $10,000 in it, I want to withdraw $7,000 and pay all penalties My company says I cant withdraw anything…can they do this?

  • Hi Mr. Blankenship,

    Can you please let me know if my previous employer can withdraw the interest of the funds that I have invested. I was separated from the company in 2009 and just left funds to grow. Until recently, I checked the statement and they took more than $11,000 from my account and left the vested amount. Is that legal?

    Thank you for your help.

  • I closed my 401K when I left the company, cashing out. A few months later I get another notice of some hundred dollars in the account ( on the employer side – zero on mine) WTH? The reason why I closed it was to disassociate with the company. Close it means close it, not keep it open in my name and social security number so that your contribution keeps getting money. Roll it over if you want under your name, but don’t keep it open under mine!

    I’m upset, what can I do about this without paying a lawyer?

    • If your employer matches your contributions or makes non-discretionary contributions on behalf of employees, they needed (apparently) to make a contribution on your behalf. If you are vested in the employer contributions, this money might be yours. If you are not vested, they’ll close out this account after the end of the year when they can file the appropriate paperwork.

  • Hi Jim,

    I recently noticed that a third party payment was made out of my 401k for $193. When I called the financial institution, they said my employer deducted it for administration fees?! I pay quarterly fees to the institution but am confused why after 7 years of contributing I see this for the first time?

    How can this be legal?

    At this rate, I’ll be nickel-ed and dimed poor!

    Thanks for your time!

  • Hi Jim i have a different problem with my 401K and i cant help but notice we the people who own the
    401Ks in mention have very little pull when it comes to our 401Ks. Does a company ever suffer financial penalties for what they do to people and their money? Never once do you tell people to get a lawyer to fix what the company did. It seems like its up to the little people who don’t know the rules because we have not been schooled on how to run our 401Ks but they have been schooled and know every turn they can make so they come out ahead. What do we have on our side to help us defend our self against underhanded employers? This is our money and we can’t stop them from changing the plan to their advantage and not ours. This is our only retirement, it means a lot to us. Its emotional to us and we should not have to stand for being pushed around. I would truly love to know what are all my rights to my 401K? A pension was much easier but less money. So now we were given rights to a 401K but we don’t have the rights to keep other peoples hands out of it! Do any laws favor the little people who own the account? After reading all the comments i can’t even text you as to why i am so upset about my company.
    Thanks for listening to me. Pat

    • Of course you always have the option to get an attorney involved. You also have the Department of Labor on your side – all of the laws around employee rights in 401k plans are DOL laws.

      Just because I don’t immediately jump to “get an attorney” in my response doesn’t mean that you can’t do so.

  • Hello-my husband has a 401k plan thru his employer w/ Merrill Lynch. He wants to get 5k out of it. When he called to see what his options were, he was told that his employer had stopped making any matching contributions for 5 years. But they were still taking his portion out of his check twice a month. Is that normal?

  • Hello,

    My employer terminated the 401k and when rather than distributing the funds to the participants, the plan administrator mistakenly told John Hancock to deposit the funds in the company’s checking account. Now the money has been stuck in there for over 2 months and nobody can figure out how to properly distribute it to the participants without triggering taxes and penalties. What route do you suggest to take in order for the money to be properly distributed? I would greatly appreciate your input.

    • I would say they can make a distribution to each individual of the amount that they are due – and if the individual wants it rolled over, the distribution should be made out to the receiving institution.

      This is a real mess, because technically you have not had control over the money but JH will provide you with a 1099R at the end of the year showing that you received the funds.

      I suggest that the company get a CPA and/or attorney involved with this to make sure that they do it right.

      • Thanks for the swift reply.

        How do I deal with a 1099R from John Hancock if I have not received the funds yet and if my personal intention all along has been to roll this over into an IRA? Ultimately I should not be personally penalized and taxes as all this has been out of my control.

        • IRS won’t care – if you have a 1099R for a distribution and no evidence of a rollover (e.g., a balance in an IRA), then you have a taxable distribution on your hands. This is liable to be very messy, especially if there are several employees.

          This is why I suggested that the company gets a CPA and/or attorney involved.

  • Hey, I had only about $3,000 dollars in a 401k when the company I worked for decided to sale. My new employer has 401k with a completely different company. Everytime I contact my old 401k to “cash out” or even roll over the small amount in my account, I am told to contact my plans administrator (who I can’t get in touch with because they sold the company) I am theny told to contact “my financial professional” and they provide me with his number. I call and I’m told that he is no longer with that firm. I call the 401k company back to be told if I can’t get in touch with either one of them then I need to contact my local department of labor. When I contact the department of labor they act like they have no idea what I’m talking about. Is there anything that I can do so they give me my money? As they can see nothing has been added to that account in almost 2 years. Thank you for any advice.

    • Call the number for the “financial professional” again. When someone picks up, ask them who is handling the accounts that your guy used to handle. Also tell them what your account is – a 401k with xxx company – so that they know what you’re referring to. That *should* get you to someone who can help.

  • Dear Jim,

    I have a friend that was with the carpenters union. He left the Union 13 years ago and to his dismay he had over 50000 dollars in a retirement fund with them. The Union is sucking large amounts of money out of his account every year stating he is no longer a member of the Union so he needs to pay for the services of managing the account. Probably so if its reasonable. I told my friend that he can roll it over to and individual account(IRA). So he called the union and told the union what I had told him. They stated to him that yes he can roll over his money, but they will be keeping the portion that they matched because that was their money that they invested. When he called me and told me this. I told him that sounds like investment fraud. My friend got frustrated and gave up. His retirement fund is now down to about 25000, and they are still claiming if he rolls it over, half of it is still theirs. I told my friend that he needs to get that money out of there and roll it over. My friend doesnt even want to discuss it any more. He looks at it as a 25000 dollar investment that he should have never made and he through is money out the door. The investment was a tax deferred account. I use to have a series 6, and a life and health license. I did group insurance. I am so disconcerted about the whole thing, by the time he retires his money will be gone for services rendered by his old union.

  • My dad passed away and the owner of the company my dad worked for cashed out the 401k before it went to probate. Is this common if you don’t leave a beneficiary.

  • Jim,

    I left my former employer (A) five years ago for better position with my current employer (B). Last May the Plan Admin for A sent me a letter saying they were changing carriers from Ameritas to TIAA. I responded that since they were switching, I’d take the opportunity to rollover my 401k to my current Plan with B.

    She said that was fine, but I learned I had to set up an account with Ameritas in order to initiate the rollover. I started that but before I finished, She emailed me to say my money had been moved to TIAA, and I needed to now set up an account with them in order to initiate the rollover. When I called an spoke to a representative, after a hard sell, he admitted that they were not holding any money for me and I needed to go back to Ameritas. When I did that, they had closed my account (that I didn’t have ?). I received another email from the plan administrator saying that she was holding a check for my 401k money which was made out to TIAA. Now I needed to open an account with them so they could deposit the check, then I could start a rollover.

    I spoke to a representative at Ameritas and asked it they could cancel that check and issue a new one in my name, or in the name of my current employer. The rep said they could if the plan admin would sign the transfer form. Someone from Ameritas Resolution Team called the plan admin to ask if she’d sign the form and write the date I left employer A, something that wasn’t ever reported. She refused to sign, no explanation given. I don’t even know her, I met her once.

    My current plan administrators even offered to talk with Ameritas to help in the transfer and sent them a letter of acceptance.

    Can I be forced to open another account just to deposit a check only to rollover the funds immediately?

    In your opinion, is there any malfeasance here? What are my options? Thanks for your advice.

    CAS

    • Unfortunately some companies make it really difficult to leave. I don’t know if this results in some people giving up and leaving the money in place or what… Nonetheless, you should be able to rollover the funds, you will just have to stick with it and get them to move for you.

  • I am 64 years old (65 in February) and I work for a Catholic school in Southern California. The Diocese has recently changed the 403B plan to which employees solely contribute. We have been informed that we may not withdraw the monies in our 403B accounts to rollover into another account or IRA while “we are in service.” Is this legal? There are no matching funds from the school or Diocese in the employees’ 403B accounts.

    • The plan administrator has the duty to choose providers, and if they are eliminating a provider from the plan you must go with whatever provider(s) remain in the plan. The administrator does not need your consent to change providers.

  • I have approximately 250k invested in my JH 401k plan. We are a company of 25 employees. My question to you is the fees of approximately $600 I’m being charged every three months. Thus seems very high to since I’m not really getting any services other than online access. Do you think this is abnormally high?

    Bill

  • I changed jobs months ago.
    My old employer has been in receipt of my wishes/instructions to transfer/rollover my 401K….and
    keeps coming up with excuses i.e. dragging their feet.

    Are their rules that they must transfer an ex-employee’s 401K to them by a certain amount of time
    after getting their instructions to do so?

    In calling the current Administrator, they said the instructions to transfer the 401K has to come from
    the company, not the participant…so I feel I’m at a loss of what my rights are at this point.

  • Jim,

    Hello, My company is changing administrators of our 401Ks. The new administrator (Empower) will only have options for mutual funds whereas our current 401K administrator (T.Rowe Price) alliows investment into individual stocks in addition to funds. Presently I have my 401K invested in 16 stocks that I do not want to sell. Can my company force me to sell my stocks? If I have a legal right to keep my stocks what alternatives could I have? I am not 59 1/2 so I don’t have that option.

    Thanks,
    Lou

    • The plan administrator has the duty to determine what investment choices are available to plan participants. If stocks are not an option, you may be required to liquidate those stock positions and choose from the options presented.

      Your only other choice (besides leaving the job) is to petition the administrator to allow your stock holdings to be grandfathered into the plan.

      • Thank you for your reply. There are thousands of us that select individual stocks over funds so perhaps the petition method will be best. Thanks for the advice.

  • Is it legal for my employer to require her signature in order for me to be able to withdraw from my 401K? I have been looking for a new job and want to be able to roll the 401K over somewhere else. My supervisor is the one that told me about this as she had called the administrator to check on what was required for roll over or withdraw.

    Also, my employer is supposed to match my contributions. This match is only deposited to my 401K account once per year. So if we leave before this date we do not get the match. Is this legal?

  • Hello,
    I have a client who is working for a large corporation. This client was in a corporate position and contributing to a 401K with an employee match. About 5 months ago, there was going to be a layoff. They offered him a position in the field where is he now part of the union. He is not contributing to his 401K because they will not let him because he is now union. They are not contributing to his 401K either. He would like to roll his 401K into a qualified IRA but they will not allow him to do that. He is 53 years old and feels like they are holding his retirement account hostage. What can he do. He has gone to HR and they say he cannot move it until he is 59 1/2. He is extremely upset and feels that this is unethical. He has about $350K in this account and is scared of another 2008. He can’t afford to loose any more money. What are his options and how does he get his retirement account out of there. He is now a union employee and no one is putting anything into his retirement.
    Thank you.

  • I’ve been contributing to my 401K for about 6 years. I was summoned by our new HR person recently, and told that they “just found out” that I “should never have gotten into the 401K”, because my particular job title is listed as ineligible. (In fact, they tacked my job title onto the end of their ineligible list in 2014, I have since determined – they want all hourly workers out) . If they wanted me to participate, they could easily have grandfathered me in, but instead they insist that I was never eligible.

    My employer has put nothing in writing, and hasn’t even informed Fidelity of this “situation” – they are simply refusing to make my payroll deductions. I cannot believe that “oh, we made a mistake 6 years ago” can be a valid or legal reason for kicking me out of the 401K program. I do not know how to proceed.

    • It is up to the plan administrator to determine what job classifications are included or excluded from the plan – there’s not much you can do about that, unless there is a clear case for discrimination.

      My concern is what happens to the funds you’ve contributed to the account. Are they going to let you leave those funds in place, or are you getting a refund? If so, this could be a tax nightmare, straightening out 6 years of under-reported income!

      • My husband worked for this company for several years and had a 401k through them he left that company and went to work somewhere else, so the401k has been sitting there growing so his last quarterly statement showed he still had money in there but when he got his statement today it showed zero balance. They had withdrew the money and distributed it. Can they do this without notifying him. Even when he put his money into the 401k also.

          • Hi Jim,

            I also received a balance recently that showed zero and am trying to track down where my 401K went. I wasn’t notified. (I am not longer with the company) What can the company legally do with my 401K?

      • When I signed up for the plan, everyone was eligible except Union employees (which I am not) . I was provided with a copy of the paln, and all it states is that only Union members were ineligible – they have their own pension plan. I thought the 401K rule (or practice, anyway) was “once in, always in” ; not that they could arbitrarily change the eligibility after years & kick us out.

        What they are doing now is silently refusing to make my contributions to my account, while letting it look as if nothing has changed. Are the Dept of Labor & IRS my only hope of assistance?

  • Hello Jim.
    I was wondering if it legal to not allow employees to take loans out on their 401k?
    and to with hold funds for three years after you leave the company?

  • I was dismissed from my job and had invested in a retirement and when I got dismissed six months later my retirement was closed and a check sent to me without me asking for it.can I do anything about this?

  • Hello,

    I have a 401K and purchased company shares of stock along with other funds for year. The company I work for decided to take away the option for the company stock last year. Even though I was no longer able to purchase the stock I still owned the shares and was a port of my 401K assets. Recently, my company move the account to another firm. Upon the transfer of shares to the new plan administrator they removed the company stock and put what I had in that fund into my other general funds that were similar to the previous plan administrators options. The company stock out performed everything else by at least 20% so not real happy this happen. My company also told me they did not give permission for this as well. Does the new plan administrator have the right to delete this fund? I am being told that since my company no longer provide this option it will be impossible to return the money to that fund. Any advice?

    • The plan administrator has the duty to determine what investment choices are available to plan participants. So if they decided to eliminate the stock as a choice (which it appears they did) then they can move your funds elsewhere. Nothing illegal about this move.

  • I retired three years ago. Prior to retiring I spent many hours with a fidelity representative determining whether or not I had a sound plan using the planning device fidelity offers. Together we came up with a long term plan that included my comfort level of risk going forward. Fidelity had various plans and based on my profile I chose a specific fund in the fidelity family. This process took many months and much thought.

    Today I checked on my account and found I was no longer invested in the fidelity fund, but instead in a t rowe fund that I or the investment person handling my account have never discussed. Apparently this fiduciary setup allows fidelity the latitude to exercise this action without my consent or there could be an inpropriaty.

    When I retired, I asked fidelity what my options were and I understood the advantage of staying in the fiduciary fund was like a safety net. I was not informed that the disadvantage was that the fiduciary manager had the power to move my money without my consent. Had I known that I would have rolled over the money out of this system.

    I was in a conservative fund. I am now in a stock heavier fund. To the best on my knowledge the move was made after July this year.

    Should I rollover out of the fiduciary structure? And where should I go? Fidelity failed to notify me and I don’t understand that. I thought based on the amount of time I have used fidelity(20 years) and the value of my account , at a minimum, a courtesy call would have exercised by fidelity.

    Can you give me some advice?

    • I don’t know if it makes sense to move away from the plan – although it sounds as if you are not satisfied with the level of communication you’re getting from your custodian. If that’s a big enough issue for you, then by all means you should look elsewhere.

      You can call my office if you’d like to discuss – or locate an advisor near you to help you gain an understanding of your options.

  • Hi

    I was terminated from my job and have a fully vested 403B plan. My former employer switched plan administrators and I was not informed of this change. I am now requesting to roll over my funds and they are delaying putting me in contact with the new plan administrator. What are my options?

    thanks

  • Employers auditor sent me a copy of my detailed retirement statement. They sais it was a random audit of their records. Does employer usually have this type access to employees retirement account? And at this point the job is not even matching funds because they are broke. Help me understand this because l do not want to get screwed. You have a great site.

  • I have been in a 401k for over 8 years…..I try to put the most money away i can. Unfortunately that means I often have to take loans out from the account (i have requested and paid off more than 10 loans over the years). In 2016 they changed the rules for the 401K loans which directly effects the access I have to the my funds. Originally the rules were basically 2 loans max with a 7 day waiting period after one is paid off to request another now they changed it to 1 loan max and 365 day waiting period. That is not even close to the way 401k plan was set up when I originally agreed to it. Can they legally change the rules when it has a direct effect on the access to your money after you have been contributing for so many years???

      • Jim,

        I know this is an older post but relates to my current situation pertaining to 401k loans. What are the some of the basic reasons plans change so abruptely with regards to loan regulations? Who initiates such changes, and is money usually the reason? Lastly, is there a direct correlation between the government and such rules regarding these loans and where might one find these rules.

        Thanks,

        Mike

        • IRS regulations on 401k loans have not changed for quite some time now. If there are changes to plan features, it’s up to the plan administrator and the employer to make these changes.

          The IRS rule is that you may be allowed (if your plan allows) to borrow up to 50% of your 401k balance or $50,000, whichever is less. There are many other rules, which you can learn about in the article How to Take A Loan From Your 401k.

  • I’m in my mid 60s and plan to retire in about 2 years. My employer of 20 years passed out paperwork the other day to join their new 401K. I’m not interested in starting a 401K for just 2 years. Company will not be matching contributions “right now”. I have other, better investments. Employer says I must provide date of birth, ss# and other personal information anyway. My identity was stolen 14 years ago and it took years to clear up. I refuse to provide the info when I’m not opening a 401K. Do I have that option? Or should I just retire now?

    • Your employer should already have all of that information – not sure why they’d need it for a 401k plan that you’re not participating in.

      On the other hand, I don’t think I’d quit my job over that sort of request. Of course it’s your call.

  • About 3 months ago I received (also my co-workers) a notification from my employer that there is an issue with our 401K , apparently compliance issues with taxes or something that were not considered when include us in the Plan. They decided to stop not only their contribution, but also our my contributions (can thay do that?) until they figure it out what is wrong. At this point what I want is to retire my money from the plan. Three months and not much information is provided. What do you think I should do, how do I approach the person in order to receive all the necessary information to make a desicion?

  • My father had a retirement account (20+ years on the job) and it was solely employer sponsored. When he passed, they took it back. Is that legal?

    • Hello,
      I have a client who is working for a large corporation. This client was in a corporate position and contributing to a 401K with an employee match. About 5 months ago, there was going to be a layoff. They offered him a position in the field where is he now part of the union. He is not contributing to his 401K because they will not let him because he is now union. They are not contributing to his 401K either. He would like to roll his 401K into a qualified IRA but they will not allow him to do that. He is 53 years old and feels like they are holding his retirement account hostage. What can he do. He has gone to HR and they say he cannot move it until he is 59 1/2. He is extremely upset and feels that this is unethical. He has about $350K in this account and is scared of another 2008. He can’t afford to loose any more money. What are his options and how does he get his retirement account out of there. He is now a union employee and no one is putting anything into his retirement.
      Thank you.

  • Hello,

    I was recently fired from my job and had a small (<$3000) vested 401k. I received paperwork for me to sign as a new account was opened for my pushed out monies at a local bank. I have had bad expeiances with that branch and would rather move the balance to my institution with my personal IRA. Unfortunatly, they require that I sign the paperwork to open the unwanted account and pay the service fees before they will release my money to do the rollover I would have wanted. Does this seem legit? Can I be forced to bank and pay a bank which my exemployer sent my distributions? Thanks for the help!

    • It doesn’t sound right, but the default (if you haven’t made a choice on your own) may be for the plan administrator to rollover your account to an IRA in your name.

      I would talk to the administrator to see if this can be changed to your existing IRA instead – and if they’re unwilling, talk to the place with the new account about transferring it out to your existing IRA.

  • My medical employer is changing 403B Providers on October 1, 2016. I have worked for my hospital for 19 years and am 100% vested currently but they became affiliated with a bigger hospital system on September 1, 2015. Retirement plan did not change at that time. Transition paperwork received less than 30 days before the new change indicates that the entire, transferred balance with only be vested at 20%. Can they reduce my vested amount this way? Very disconcerting. I know this feed is about 401Ks but had to ask!

    • That doesn’t sound right – but perhaps there is also an option for you to transfer your funds from the old 403B to an IRA…? If that’s the case, you would have complete control over your current 403B funds, just in an IRA. And then you could continue contributing to the new 403B with future income deferrals.

    • It’s up to the plan administrator – but generally this is not the case for most plans. If I were you I’d dig deeper into why there is this limit. If it’s not a plan requirement (ie, written in the plan documentation) then your employer can’t just arbitrarily withhold your money.

  • Hello Jim,

    I terminated employment in April and soon after looked into cashing out my 401k. I discovered that they had my vested interest incorrect and they said call back in a couple months. After another month of it not being corrected i was told to contact the third party admin. They brushed me off and said it can only be accessed annually when the reports are done in May. I told the CFO this is the exact opposite of what he had told me and his reply was sorry i didn’t know.

    Can they not allow me to transfer it to my own IRA for another year?

    p.s. a week after i had left I received an account summary for a pension plan I had no idea that we were ever given?? and I do not see the pension plan listed in the 401k account online.

    Thank you 🙂

    • I’ve never heard of a plan that only allows a rollover out of the plan (a distribution) under a limited timeline. I think you should check into this further.

      With regard to your pension, these are typically separate from the 401k plan so you wouldn’t necessarily have seen anything about it before on your statements.

  • A relative I am representing in purchasing a new home asked his employer if he can make a small (just enough) withdrawal to use as a downpayment on the new home. The employer responded that he can only withdraw under one of these three conditions:

    1) Death or Life-Threatening Circumstances personally or within family.
    2) College Tuition
    3) At risk of losing primary residence (i.e. to foreclosure)

    Is the employer allowed to hold onto his money, and if so, is the employer allowed to restrict to these conditions?

  • Hello, this morning I was informed that my employer will no longer be distributing our 401K statements. Is this legal?

  • I recently lost my job and cashed out my paltry 401k to cover bills.
    When I contacted fidelity to cash out they informed me that there was substantially more money in my account than my final pay stub showed. The agent helping me said that almost all of it was tied up in company stock (to which I never exercised any options). After cashing out and being penalized almost 50% (seems high to me but what do I know), I received a check for almost twice as much as my final pay stub was in the account to being with.

    It appears as though my former employer was stuffing my 401k with money to purchase their own stock to inflate the value of the company and hiding it from the employees. I know the system is rigged for the bookies running the accounts but is this legal?

  • Hi Jim,
    I was working for a company and in their 401k. I left the company and before any roll over options were available they rolled my 401 over to a third party (less than a month after the job change) . During the roll over $59.81 has disappeared. As soon as it got to the third party they deducted a 30 dollar annual fee. The original company says I need to contact the second who act completely stupid over the $59.81 missing.

    Of course none of this seems legal to me but I have no idea what is and is not legal nor any idea of what type of lawyer or other professional I would contact to find out what is right and wrong. Any advice?

  • I have been with the same company for 32 years and have been investing in the company stock 401k fund since the beginning. I have built up a large balance (75% of the total) and the gain is significant (~70%) leading me to take advantage of the NUA option upon distribution when I turn 59.5 in four years. I’m afraid the company may force employees to redistribute to a smaller % of holdings in company stock thus eroding the gain and basically taking away about $1M in long-term tax advantage for me. Can the company legally redistribute funds like that?

  • I have been contributing to a 401k plan through my employer for about 28 years, and a year ago they stopped taking the money out of my check to go into the 401k. Recently I was told by my boss (who’s father owns the company) that the company is being sold, and I would be out of work. He also informed ALL of us employees that there would be no 401k payouts, because there was no money in them. How can NONE of us not have any money our in our 401k’so which we (specifically I) have been contributing to for 27 years? It shows its been taken out each week on my pay stub. He also told us that if we tried to cash our checks a couple weeks ago, we’d be fired, because he had no money in the account to cover our wages. He said he’d know who would have tried to cash their check. He’s taken the company credit card, and gone on several vacations, has purchased flowers for Valentines Day (and god only knows what else) with his girlfriend. He used company money to buy a new car, and wrecked it. Insurance paid around 17k for the loss of the vehicle, and he pocketed it. He took thousands of core money, example: He was paid 10k for cores, and only put 1k in the company, and pocketed the other 9k. He takes $200 out the cash boxes every week on top of his paycheck, and doesn’t pay taxes on it. And the counter workers were paid “under-the-table” commissions, with no tax taken out, in addition to their paychecks. He curses all of us employees out (badly, and consistently in the presence of customers.) My boss threatened to fire me because I wouldnt refund an item purchased (because I couldnt). A customer who purchased the item, came back to return it. He had used a credit card, and didn’t have that for the money to be returned onto (and his drivers license didn’t match, who the original purchaser was). My boss cussed me out, saying “I’m the f****** boss, and you do what I tell you to do. I reiterated that I can’t process a refund without the original credit card. I still don’t know how he handled it, because I threatened to quit after he cussed me out. After I threatened to quit, he came back and begged me to stay (no one else knows how to do my job). The daily cash money winded up negative, because of theft, and one of book keeper (who I believe she’s the one taking it) plays with the “accounting books” so, the theft isn’t noticeable. Anyway, I know you didn’t need (or really want) to hear all of that, but I wanted to give you an idea of what’s been going on, so you can maybe suggest , who I need to contact to get something done about this. I’m mainly concerned about getting my 401k money (that he told me doesnt exist) payout that I’ve paid into/contributed to for over 27 years now, upon losing my job, due to the upcoming sale of the company. On top of everything above, I am told I have to train the new company’s employees for 2 weeks, before I’m out of a job, and I am NOT allowed to file for unemployment to help me survive, because you have to work for a company for 3 to 6 months before you’re allowed to file for it. They are only allowing 2 weeks to train the new people. Can you please help me, by suggesting who I can contact, who can do something about this. I deserve my 401k (Everyone else in the company has been told their money is gone as well – I believe it was never put in the 401k, he used our weekly 401k money for his own personal needs) that I have worked so hard for (and put up with SO much abuse) all of my life. He’s only paid me $12 per hour after all those years. Also, if Im sick, and need to take off, he wont pay/authorize it, if he doesnt believe Im sick (which is most of the time.) So, Ive worked sick. I have vacation time, and I wont get paid for it, because of the sle Its just not right, and I dont deserve this. Thanks for your help. The only reason I’ve put up with it all these years, was because I needed the little bit of money I make to survive. Thanks again!

    • I would hire an attorney to help you work through this – banding together with the other employees would be a good plan.

      If I had to guess, I’d imagine that he’s going to declare bankruptcy at some point and even if you can get something to “stick” (regarding requirement for payback) it will be a long time in coming if ever.

      I wish you well – sorry to hear about all your troubles.

  • My husbands employer used to have a hardship clause in their 401k plan but someone made a mistake(whether it was the plan administrator/payroll lady who has no idea what she is doing or the old ceo-who knows) and now it doesnt. We scrimped and saved to put money in the plan for retirement in

    addition to extra money for a down payment on our first home for the past 9 years only to call and find out we cant take it out. My husband met with the CEO this morning and he said he would do everything in his power to help, write a letter of exemption, help him take out a loan against it like other plans allow whatever he could do. What are the chances any of that would help us withdraw the money? Thanks for your help!

  • あなたはもう一つのすばらしい新しいtxの腕時計を探している。これは、500系ワールドタイムモデルの一部ともう少し洗練されたスタイルに関しては、外向的なモデルより。また、この新しいモデルであるので、私は正確なモデル番号がありません。背景には、世界地図の青白に対しては本当に素晴らしく見えた新しいレトロな観察を得ます。私は、腕時計は、永久カレンダーと思っていると、表示の第2タイムゾーンの半球シーズン(冬または夏)とデート。腕時計の主要な焦点は、世界時の合併症である。あなたができる赤い「t」の手を見る周りにダイヤルすることができます基準都市を通してのタイムゾーンを選択します。これは、逆行性24時間ダイヤル10時近くに位置する時間が変化する。主な時間腕時計のダイヤルの上に表示されます。オリス偽物激安通販あなたはユニークなルックスと使う楽しみです本当に便利なワールドタイムの時計を持っていた。時計の結晶鉱物の結晶の上に実際に結合したサファイアである。少しより高価にするよりも、すべてのサファイアクリスタルがサファイア結晶の利益のほとんど。また、結晶の丸い端とケースから上がっている触発レトロです。この新しい500シリーズワールドタイムウォッチの最良の部分は、新しいブレスレットです。金属製のブレスレットが出てかなり醜い。このハンサムなそのスタイルはほぼジュビリーブレスレットをしている。私はこの多くの腕時計が好きだったと思います、それは良い売り手ですまた、良い贈り物を見てください。価格の可能性が500ドルのこの腕時計のためである。 http://www.newkakaku.com/cxb1.htm

  • 財布のコピー 時間を発表しますとても長くてとても長い前、人類はすべて更に赤く双足は歩いています。1人の国王はある辺鄙で遠い田舎の旅行に着いて、路面がでこぼこなため、とても多くてばらばらな石があって、刺すのは彼の足を得ます痛くてしびれます。王宮に帰った後に、彼はおりていっしょに命令して、国内のすべての道はすべて一層のほらに敷きます。彼はこのようにすると思って、自分になって、また彼の人民に幸福をもたらすことができて、みんなを歩かせます時もう受けて痛い苦しみを刺しません。たとえしかし最も国内のすべての牛を殺しますとしても、十分な皮革をも調達しきれないで、費やした金銭、使用する人力、更にはかりしれません。まったくできないが、甚だしきに至ってはまたかなり愚かで、しかし国王の命令なため、みんなも頭を振ってため息をつくことしかできません。1人の聡明な召使いは大胆に国王に提案を出しています:「国王!どうしてあなたは大勢の人を動員して、そんなに多い牛に命を捧げて、そんなに多い金銭を費やしますか?あなたは何は両の小さいほらであなたの足をしっかり包むだけではありませんか?」国王が聞いたのはとても驚いて、しかしもすぐ悟って、そこですぐに命令を取り消して、この提案を新たに採用します。聞くところによると、これは「革靴」の由来です。世界を変えたくて、難しいです;自分を変えて、比較的容易です。全世界を変えるよりも、先に自分の–「自分の双足を包みます」を変えるほうがいいです。自分のいくつかの観念と方法を変えて、外来の侵略を防ぎ止めますで。自分で変えた後に、目の中の世界の自然はすぐ引き続き変えました。 http://www.ooobag.com/wallet/louisvuitton/index_12.html

  • 簡単にお気に入りの腕時計ユリスナルダンから彼らの有名な「フリーク」が、2001年以降、「アンチ・クラシック」の高級時計とモダンなデザインの時計nerderyが好きである人々のためでした。 ブルガリスーパーコピー ユーレッセナーディン彼らの有力なシリコン腕時計で賭け金を上げ続けるということを私は何より好きです(異常な機械的運動における成分としてのシリコン部分を含む最初のスイス時計の生産)、多くの特徴を加えて、システムの性能と耐久性を増やします。その心は、時計の長針に実際にあるダイヤルの上で全てのシリコンギヤ列を特徴とします。最新の生成・フリークで、「freaklabとして知られ、「ユリスナルダンをさらに追加し、会社の新しい社内」ulychoc」技術の衝撃吸収材として機能を含む。 http://www.bagkakaku.com/vuitton_bag/2/N51206.html

  • 积家堅持日進月歩の革新的な精神を、同時に伝奇潜水表にPolarisの優れた伝統を新しい潜水表シリーズ発売。三種類の異なるスタイル抜群の斬新な内包はそれぞれ、オメガスーパーコピーその中の1項の防水性能1000メートルのケースデザインやコンセプトの斬新な機械式水深計、いずれも出て积家優良な伝統の傑作。本シリーズは画期的なマスターCompressor Diving Proジオグラフィックを搭載し、機械式水深計;そしてマスターCompressor DivingGMTとは時間時計と直径44ミリのマスターCompressor Diving Chronographクロノ腕時計。 http://www.bestevance.com/rolex/submariner/index.htm

  • 梅表会社総裁のダニエル・史洛普(ダニエルSchluep)初めて見张奇開の絵に一目惚れしてパンダと感動に加え、パンダはかわいくて、おとなしくて、平和のイメージは、更に勾よう大衆に絶滅動物の生態環境の注目。そこでダニエル・史洛普決定と张奇開一回風変わりな協力運用精妙な発想と技巧、「大気圏に再突入するNo . 1」をテーマに、高度な油絵結合タブ工芸とデザインの文字盤に。シャネル 時計 コピーダニエル・史洛普はずっと芸術好きで、张奇開さんが作品の中で体現してパンダの熱愛と時間と空間のテーマで議論し、彼は深く触れ。で张奇開にとって、今回スイスと梅表国際時計ブランドと提携し、さらに発揚と中華芸術交流促進を絶好のきっかけ。 http://www.gginza.com/%E6%99%82%E8%A8%88/%E3%83%AD%E3%83%AC%E3%83%83%E3%82%AF%E3%82%B9/day-date/f640a24e7f9f7a5a.html

  • スーパーコピーモンクレール 長年にわたって、ブランパンのトゥールビヨンとの間を揺れ動くカルーセルの時計を作っていたと考えられ、2013年に、ブランパン、単に同じ運動の両方のメカニズムを含んだヴィルレカルーセルのトゥールビヨン(ここでは実際のリリース)。長い話を短くするために、私はカルーセルブランパンで選り抜きの贅沢な合併症としてのトゥールビヨンを打つことと思いません、しかし、ブランドは限られた数の両方を生産し続けます、少なくとも、それが来るとき、カルーセルへ。口径2322などの動きはとても面白いと集められるが、私の考えでは、彼らはブランドから専用の運動愛好家の選ばれた数への声明として作用するためである。私は実際に見て、新しい近代的な2322v2 2015年までにおける2322運動の復活を見て非常に驚きました。 http://www.okakaku.com/Super-Copy-195.html

  • コンスタンチンchaykinコンプトゥスの復活祭の時計は、あなたはそれを推測し、東方正教会の復活祭の感動的な日付を識別する顕著な挑戦に取り組むために設計されました。 パネライスーパーコピー このように、なぜ日付を計算するのが非常に難しいですか?さて、決定要因を含むので、月のサイクルは、太陽のサイクルは、エパクト、太陽の補正とより多く。chaykinのこれらの要因の全てを使用して計算をするために彼自身の方法を作成する方法を学びました、そして、彼だけにクロックを教えるように東方正教会の復活祭の日付を計算する。私たちはすぐにリストが無数の他の機能の中で、これはこの顕著な構造の目玉、大理石、真鍮、シルバー、鋼、ジュラルミン、ガラス、金、ラピスラズリ、とより多くから作られます。 http://www.fujisanbrand.com/wallet/vuitton/index_12.html

  • カルティエクロノプッシャー拡張クラウン構造に挿入すると、非常にエレガントに見えた。実際には、あなたは現在あなたがクロノプッシャーを含むその地域に気がつきます、程度の3つの版を見るならば、たとえそれが現れるとして設計された最初からプッシャーは最終的にそこにいるだろうと計画した。それは多分実際のケース。2012年度の口径のクロノグラフ、42 mmの広幅鋼または18 kピンクゴールドケースとブレスレットまたはストラップオプションは、初めから入手可能で利用される。 http://www.ooobrand.com/aq/index.html

  • 百年の輝かしい歴史を持つのHamiltonとリーヴァを独木格の設計、無類の品質、完璧な味わいと究極の手芸表現で有名に世を一緻を欧米スターやハリウッド映画界の長年の支持と歓迎。Hamiltonとリーヴァの起源は19世紀、リーヴァ創立は西暦1842年イタリア北Iseo湖畔の1家のボートドック内ながら、若い労働者は数隻の修理Pietroリーヴァ暴風雨に壊れて、他の労働者も放棄して整備された漁船の修復、彼は優れた木工技術すぐ名高い、リーヴァ造船事業から正式に始動。Hamiltonもあって似た起源を背景に、西暦1892年Hamilton元アメリカペニスランカスター市にある小さな工場。ブルガリスーパーコピーその正確で、信頼できる技術を獲得しアメリカのタブで当時の鉄道会社や軍の採用、後により解決列車衝突やパイロットよく軌道からそれる飛行の安全問題。それぞれ時計業やヨット業発光して発熱のHamiltonとリーヴァし世界合作と相まって、成熟した技術は、優雅に挑戦し続ける革新を続け、ブランドの承諾。 http://www.eevance.com/News/0b7c298ab50293ad.html

  • 42ミリメートルワイドケース(100メートルまで耐水性)黒コーティングによる鋼の中にある。私はそれを信じてdlcです、しかし、ブライトリングのないdlcに具体的に言及する。事例ベースの治療は、「高度耐性炭素が、彼らは単に状態。」……。別名dlcですか?ケース・ベントリーのための署名のブライトリングの角の側面と「closデュパリ」と刻まれているベゼルに見えることがあります。これにより抑制された大きさにおいて、私はそれがよりよく見えると思います。 カルティエ偽物 腕時計に取り付けられた黒いゴムひもです。考えてみると私は理由を知りませんが、両方の条件を見て「カーボン」と「ミッドナイト」のタイトルである。二人とも何か暗いか黒いを意味するのにしばしば使われます。おそらく、彼らはちょうど部分を特定するのを助ける1つの学期で動けない可能性があります。 http://www.eevance.com/News/2e2d7fbdea1afc51.html

  • スーパーコピーロレックス,品質保証も安心のロレックスコピー通販サイトHoshiwatch.CoM.ロレックススーパーコピー時計続々入荷中!!!当店は本物と区分けが付かないようなN品スーパーコピーロレックス腕時計等を扱っております. http://www.msnbrand.com/goods-copy-4780.html

  • バーゼルは2015年までに、ablogtowatch 18 kのホワイトゴールドでユリスナルダンfreaklabの初期のバージョンで若干の実際の時間がありました、しかし、我々はここでブラック色の画像中のチタンと炭素繊維であり、限定版ユリスナルダンfreaklabブティック(その名の通りを意味する)だけユーレッセナーディンモノブランド店で販売される。 http://www.ooobrand.com/bags/hermes/638.html

  • ブレゲ時計ですべてのシリーズの中で、最も直接Classiques経典シリーズを体現したブランドの伝統的価値観と完璧なタブ芸、このシリーズは200年以上の歴史を完璧にブレゲ伝承、それらのシンボル的な特徴が影響した高級腕時計制作史。2011年バーゼルブレゲプラダ カナパ コピー時計展が初めて発表されClassique 5717 Hora Mundi経典シリーズのタイムゾーンの腕時計、ブレゲ経典シリーズの精髄を演繹し。この項表は貴重な材料で作ら:18金やプラチナバラ950。オプション3種類の文字盤:南北アメリカ州、ユーラシア大陸やアジアやオセアニア—-分表世界を代表する一方、国境、計6種類の型番。時計の文字盤は同モデルで中央の藍鋼ブレゲ針の現在の所在指示タイムゾーンの時、分、秒、12時位の日付表示ボックスが同期が3日の日付読取り。一枚の隠しダイヤルを持って円環のマイクロ逆行指針は即時ボックスかも当面の日付を読み、24時間週期でゆっくり滑り。スーパーコピーブランド専門店当日の日付で、右に左からかすめ日付を帯び窓口後、円環の逆行指針は自らジャンプから窓の左側に同じペースで続けと新入生の日の調歩。 http://www.gginza.com/%E6%99%82%E8%A8%88/%E3%83%AD%E3%83%AC%E3%83%83%E3%82%AF%E3%82%B9/index.html

  • 梁文冲と张连伟先月引き受ける美の中国の精鋭試合冠軍、あとでHSBC選手権とUBS香港公開戦もよい発揮。梁文冲彼の良い表現を通して、ドバイ・ワールド選手権陣に入った、同時に彼はアジアツアー賞金ランキングでも位。梁文冲「私と兄さえ偉数年来ずっと外徴戦で、我々は、すべての中国のもっと良い未来がある。ワールドカップは私と兄めったに協力のチャンス。HUBLOT時計コピー現在、中国の最高水準を代表しました。しかし同時に、私たちも希望未来多く靑少年を超えて私達の選手。私はこれも二人が見たくないこと。私をとても大事にしても偉兄貴パートナーごとに1つの機会に、私は私たちの中国靑少年に良い模範を確立して、私たちの良い成績を励まして進む。」 http://www.newkakaku.com/l12.htm

  • I just recently found an old 401 statement. I knew I had one but haven’t received anything or heard anything from then in years. When I went online to check my balance, it said it was withdrawn. I never withdrew my 401. I guess I just figured it would sit there until I retire. But in talking to other previous employees, they all took their money out or rolled it over. This is what I was looking to do. Is there a way that my previous employer could’ve withdrawn my 401 without my knowledge or approval? I’m actually kind of shocked to find my statement and my online account are totally different. Then to see there was a withdrawn only upsets me. Is this legal? How can I find out why they did this and where my money is? Even just my contribution part. I would think this is my money. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • I would contact the custodian for information about the withdrawal. If you were vested in the account balance the company should not have been able to take the funds. It’s possible if it has been several years that the administrator was not able to contact you and the account was cashed out and turned over as unclaimed to state authorities, as an example.

      jb

  • We were trying to transfer the funds from my last job over to chase…check is lost in the mail..there s 0 balance in both accounts. What is worse is the there s an amount of money lost on the market since november & they cant tell how that happened since my money were in a fixed annuity and i ve never opted to put them on the market again…thinking of a legal way to hadle this..?? Tia

    • We just found out the company was sold & they ve send out letters we are not aware off, but my money were in a fixed annuity…even if they did sent me a letter, it sounds really unfair to play them on the market witouth my express agreement…one thing is to switch them around on the market, but they were in fixed annuity fund??? Can i do anything legally about it?

  • I wanted to take a loan from my employee 401K to help put a down payment on my first home, but found out the plan does not allow for loans, only hardship withdrawals. Does my employer have any authority to make an exception to the plan’s restrictions? I feel like if I asked them, they would allow me to take out the loan, but for the Plan language. Why wouldn’t a loan be permitted and only a withdrawal? I want to pay it back eventually? Is there anything I can do?

    • No, those allocations are all written into the plan document. They can’t make exceptions based on the individual. They could amend the plan document to allow this for all staff members though.

  • My former employer recently changed 401k plans from one provider over to Vanguard. For the past year, I had allocated 100% of my investments to money market as I felt the stock market was somewhat overvalued.

    I came to learn today from a current employee that on Jan 1 the accounts were transferred and if you didn’t elect your investments with the new provider they would automatically be allocated to a default investment (based on your expected retirement age). After asking around, I’ve found that another former employee was notified of the upcoming change via mail, but I didn’t receive the similar notification. This has resulted in ~5% loss in value in the past week during the time I was unaware of this change.

    Do I have recourse here? I would have expected to be notified in advance. Further, I would have assumed that if they were going to default something…. they would have defaulted to a money market with the new provider… not such a dissimilar investment.

  • Hi Jim-

    My employer has changed some 401(k) funds available for employees to invest in, no surprises there. As is typical, future contributions in Fund A are automatically changed to new, equivalent Fund B.

    What does seem really odd is that the existing shares owned in Fund A are automatically exchanged into Fund B. There is no option to opt out of this forced exchange other than to exchange into Fund C (which isn’t much of a choice, really.) Our 401(k) is administered through a regional bank, BTW, and invests in pretty typical range of funds (T Rowe, Fidelity, Vanguard)

    I don’t understand how I can be forced to trade something which I own and in which I am fully vested (?)… ESPECIALLY since this has become a yearly routine where 10-20% of funds available are rolled over.

    • I don’t think there’s anything you can do about this, especially after the fact. Typically this sort of exchange is publicized in advance, so if you wanted to cash out and wait until after the exchange to reallocate, then that’s your chance to do so.

      jb

  • Jim,
    My company is in the process of changing our 401k from Mass Mutual to Fidelity. Over the last year our company has stopped matching contributions and we have also seen 4 pay cuts. I have also seen a loss on my 401k instead of an increase. During this transition can I opt out and remove the money? At this point I would feel safer investing in cd’s or just a savings account.

    • Probably not – but this is up to the administrator. You’ll need to contact them to see what options you have available. Most plans have a cash or guaranteed interest option – but at the bottom of the market is not likely the best time to sell out.

      jb

  • I work for a national chain drug store and we were informed this year that the maximum amount the we can elect toward our company stock is 20% for our 401k . If we decide not to diversify the company will automatically limit us to 20% and the remaining 80% will be directed toward the guaranteed stable fund. The goal is to make sure we are diversified. If we choose to direct all of our money toward our own company stock (which is not advised) can they maximize our amount.

  • My former employer decided to change retirement fund plans 2 years ago. I had left the company 2 years prior to that and decided to leave my plan with them but only paid into it randomly. Since I was no longer with the company, my account didn’t transfer, but was, for all intents and purposes, canceled. I didn’t find out about the switch until late last year and have jumped through a number of hoops (in some cases multiple times) attempting to withdraw the remaining funds. In general, they’ve been giving me the run around about it and I can’t get a straight answer. I want to know how much I should expect them to payout. The statement shows a balance of about $3500, the same account balance was reported shortly after my old company switched plans (minus a couple of $10 maintenance fees) . Is that the amount that they will payout if I ever manage to get this settled? The money is not in any active account, it’s essentially in limbo. Any insight is very much appreciated. Thanks!

  • The company where both my husband and I are employed is financially struggling. In order to obtain additional funds, my employer is tapping into her 401K. She is closing the plan. She told us that in order for her to withdraw the funds, she had to close the plan. Is that true? Why can’t she simply borrow against her plan rather than withdraw the funds? It’s a small company, and apparently, only 10 of us are currently contributing. She said that she’s paying someone $15,000 a year to manage the plan. That seems very high to my husband and me. Thoughts? Thank you

    • That does seem a bit excessive, but I don’t know all the facts about the situation and the service provided.

      The truth of the matter is that your employer doesn’t have to provide a 401k plan, and as such can close a plan if it has become a poor business decision to maintain it.

      From your perspective, you can continue to make contributions to an IRA (both you and your husband) although it won’t be as much. You can also rollover your existing (closed) 401k accounts to IRAs as well.

      jb

  • Jim, you talk about this like it is always a bad thing. The ability of an employer to change the investment alternatives in a plan is actually a good thing. And they actually have a fiduciary responsibility to do so when the need arises. The problem is when a company doesn’t act in their employees’ best interest.

    Companies should be having periodic investment reviews, where they review the current offerings and compare them against others in that investment class. Let’s say a short term bond fund has been underperforming its peer group for quite a while. Shouldn’t the company be allowed to replace that fund with a better one? I’m not talking about churning them in and out every quarter.

    Most of the employees may not have the time or expertise to analyze their investments in a way a company can, especially with professional guidance (which 401k custodians will often provide as part of their package). The same employees that are upset that a fund is being replace would be the same ones who would want to sue the company if they found out that a fund they were investing in for 10 years was a dud, which could have and should have been swapped for a better fund in the same sector years ago.

    The ability of a company to put the best of a myriad of investment choices in their plan, and update them so they STAY the best, is a good thing. When employers abuse that privilege for their own gain or convenience….well, that’s another story.

    • Couldn’t agree more.

      Most often if the employer/administrator is doing a good job the employee/participant isn’t looking for articles regarding whether or not the employer/administrator can control the employee’s account in the plan.

      In other words, the article is not necessarily written for someone whose plan is well-managed and has no problems.

      jb

  • Hi, I have been with the company I work for for 25 years. I have been depositing into the company’s 401 K plan for most of this time, giving me a balance of over 200K. I am about 12 years from retirement. I am also a union member with an annuity as a retirement beneifit. My employer has decided that because the Union members have an annuity, it doesn’t want to match the Union member’s deposit, which is okay, the match is not much. But to do this, they are not allowing me to deposit into my 401K anymore. My account will exist and will earn interest, and I can use it upon retirement, but I cannot deposit into it. Is this still called a 401K? Is this legal?

  • What would a financial advisor charge to look over my plan document .And explain it to me in terms I can understand . I’ am an alternate payee of 50%of former spouse 401k through court order. Administrors have not been knowledgeable are direct about questions I’ve asked

  • My employer set up our 401k with fidelity and i can’t take a loan against my 401k. I asked them about it and they said that they are working on adding that but it takes time due to some ERISA deadline. I looked that up and couldn’t find it anywhere. Are they blowing smoke up my butt?

  • My company had a 401k and for 4 years the census was not reported correctly. They went with a new HR company thus a new 401k plan. In doing so they found the error. Long story short, they had to open an account for those employees that were eligible during that 4 years and pay into the employees account what they would have earned during that time. They said they are now going to close the old 401k and said we could roll over money to whatever we wanted or roll over into the new 401k with our new HR company. They do not match and I do not want to roll it over to the new 401k but they said I have to and I can’t roll over to my IRA like they said I could in the beginning. Are they allowed to do that? Roll over from the old 401k to the new one that I don’t even participate in? Please reply.

  • My employer stop and closed there 403b. And open a new one with some one else. Can I cash out the old one that they closed. And I still work at the same place. Can you help

  • My wife recently wanted to transfer her money from an old 401k from her first employer to her current employer to take advantage of their new stock options. They told her that her money and account was transferred to SunTrust about 5 to 10 years ago?? My wife contacted Suntrust to locate her money, they bounced her around most of the day to different departments and came back and said we cannot locate your money under your social security number, it must have been turned into the state??? Can that happen???

  • I’m trying to close out a small 401k account from my old employer. I was fired out of the blue and let’s just say we’re not friendly at this time…lol! I called and informed them that I wanted the account closed…they sent me the proper paperwork with instructions. I filled everything out as required and wrote them a check they said they needed for filing fees. $175! It’s been close to a month now and the account is still not closed. I’m currently disabled and in need of surgery so the money would be a big help! Is there a time frame by which they have to close the account? Some sort of law that they have to close the account within a certain time? I’m getting agitated and they won’t take my calls. I could use some advice. If it matters I live in NJ. Thanks in advance…..

  • I my husband and I have been trying to obtain information regarding a clause in his 401k account. First, not that he plans to, but IF he wanted to stop contributions for 6 months…. There is a fee of $100 to stop and another $100 fee to start contributions again. Is this standard or normal procedure?
    My husband is almost 61 and was interested in moving some of the funds in his 401k . He was told that there is a clause that states he CANNOT withdraw ANY funds until he is 67 or no longer employed by his company. We have not been able to find any information regarding this situation and thought at his present age, he could withdraw ( just transfer) funds to another account. He was told he could only take a loan, which he obviously will not do.
    Any information you could give would be appreciated!!

    • We just went through the same thing where I work. A current employee under retirement age wanted to withdraw money. Fidelity said absolutely not… claiming it was a built in restriction to all 401k plans. If the money the employee had in there was rollover money that could be withdrawn, but contributions they had made could not (while they were still employed or under retirement age).

  • My former employer moved all their 403b plans from Valic to Mass Mutual without any notice to former employees. I found this out when I called Valic to make a change to my investments and was informed my account had been surrendered and had a $0 balance. Currently funds are “in transition” and aren’t available to be managed through Mass Mutual until 9/14/15. It seems to me that we should have been notified before this change. Is that correct?

  • My company just stopped my 401k
    They want me to enroll with a baking with all the money to be transferred.
    Two qwestions. 1..can a company do that.
    2.. will my money be OK with a institution like a bank. And all the money will be transfered.

    • Kevin –

      If the new account is another 401(k) or other deferred account, it should be just as safe as it was in the 401(k). As to whether the company can “do that” – you may have the option to rollover your money from the old 401(k) into an IRA at the institution of your choice, but otherwise any other option (such as cashing out) would result in significant taxes and likely penalties for doing so.

      Hope this helps –

      jb

  • My husband transferred money from a previous employers 401K to his new employer. We had some financial problems and needed to withdraw some of it & they don’t allow withdraws as long as he is employed. If the money transferred is all from the rollover and none was deferred or matched from current employer, can we just withdraw the entire amount?

    • Unfortunately not. This is one of the downsides of transferring money into a 401k plan – you lose access/control over the funds.

      Perhaps you may be able to take a loan against the funds in the account…? Check with your plan administrator to see if this is available.

      jb

  • My company doesn’t allow me to choose how my 401k is invested. They manage the money for the employees, so even though I am in my early 30’s I am forced into a conservative investment strategy. Is this legal?

    • It depends on how your plan is designed. Sounds as if your plan is designed with no option for employee choice in investment. I would review the plan documents if I were you and determine if the plan is actually a 401(k) plan and/or if there are other options available to you.

      jb

  • Can a company go private and without ANY notice to the employees prior, convert all of your 401(k) plan monies to company stock with no access to cashing it out until the age of 59 1/2?

    My former employee did this and I would have rather moved my 401(k) to an IRA instead of company stock, especially since they let me go for refusing to move heavy furniture 10 days after I had surgery.

  • When I set up my 401k, I am 100% sure I chose my contributions to be a Roth 401k, not an Employee Pre-Tax deferral. Now when I look at my investment info, 95% of my investments are listed at EE-Deferral. I want to know does the Firm, or my Employer have the legal right to change my investments from a Roth to Pre-Tax deferral without my consent or knowledge?
    Thanks!

    Justin

    • No, the only reason I can think of is if you weren’t eligible for the Roth and that seems unlikely. I think you need to get in touch with your HR/administrator of the plan to work this out.

      jb

  • Can my employer legally eliminate 2 well performing investment funds that I am satisfied with from my 401K? Other employees are also satisfied with these funds’ performance over the years, and we feel victimized by this. Reading between the lines of the notification sent, the fees affiliated with the present funds are more than the fees affiliated with the new funds they are adding and is no doubt the reason for this change. Does the employer still have to offer the funds they want to replace if employee is willing to pay the difference in the fees charged?

    • Unfortunately this happens all the time, and all you can do is talk to your employer and let them know your concerns. Ultimately it is the employer’s decision as to what funds are offered.

  • Oops a typo. Can an employer legally withdraw money from a 401k without the consent of the individual who owns the 40lk.

      • Is an employer allowed to withdraw money from a 401k account without notice and permission of the (former) employee? The employer claims that there was an over payment of employer contributions (claiming that the employee was not eligible for employer contributions) BUT that is actually not true. The employee was eligible but the employer withdrew the money out of spite because the employee resigned. Please help! Wondering how to get the money back from the former employer/administrator. Thanks!

  • Just wanted to know if an employer and legally withdraw money from a 401k without the consent of the individual who owns the 401k?

  • my human resorce manager went into my 401K in Sept.2011 and reopened a loan that i defalted in june of 2011 and then come to me and said we found out that you can still pay on your loan since you were out of work hurt from the job, but if you dont want it just sign this paper saying you want to defalt your loan. this was in a longb line of being called in the office for all sorts of things after returning to work from injuries at work.and finaly was firedafter settling with workmans comp

  • If I don’t like the way that my company is handling my 401k can I take it out against their will? They say I can’t access it until I retire or terminate employment. What legal recourse do I have?

  • Debra, there must have been some paperwork that provided for the company to automatically sign you up if you did not specifically opt out – otherwise what you described is not allowable. I’d talk to your HR representative to let them know that you don’t want to participate.

    jb

  • I did not sign up for a 401K, furthermore I do not want to be involved in my companies 401K but they without my permission withdrew monies from my pay and deposited them into the company 401K. Is it legal for an employer to take monies from your check other than taxes without your permission?

  • My wife company was reciently purchase by another company. She had a 401 K with the old company. The new company for the last year and a half has not had a match and there is no match in sight. She went to her HR department and told them that she wants to withdraw all of the money. She was told the only way that she can get money out of her account is if there is real estate involved or if there is a hardship. Why does her company have any say in what she does with her money ? This new company has never put a dime into her account out of their pocket. If she wants to take the monies out and pay the penalties, is it not her money to with it what she wants ?

  • Helen,

    Unfortunately, only your employer has control over the custodian of your 401(k), and that includes the fees being charged as well as the choices of investments.

    The main thing that you can do if the plan is really that bad is to invest and save outside of the plan, and hope that what you have invested so far will at least retain its value. If you can do so, you might take the amount already in the plan and allocate it solely to a money market or guaranteed return vehicle – that would at least provide stability.

    jb

  • Jim,
    Was told I had a 401k with profit sharing when started with employer. Had monies took out weekly then after a couple of years noticed nothing was getting put in from the company. I stopped putting money in 401k because it was not doing anything. Now I found they transferred it to a different investment company without any authorization and have lost a great deal of money and the fees they charge are huge. There wont be anything left at this rate. Is there anything i can do?

  • Dan –

    Wow. I’ve never heard of that, and I’m pretty sure it’s not allowable legally. I’d recommend getting in touch with the Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, and explain the situation there, to get their feedback.

    If the plan is no longer a 401(k) plan (or never was), then the DoL can’t necessarily help unless fraud can be proven.

    Best of luck to you –

    jb

  • My wife’s employer moved all the employees 401 to a single account in his name and he controls the risk taken since he has the most money in it. He gets one statement telling how the funds are doing but not a breakdown by employee. Is this legal? Don’t they owe a statement to each employee. The Employer matches up to 3 percent. But act like its all his money.

    Nervous in NY

  • Dennis –

    While many employers offer provisions such as loans and possibly hardship withdrawals and the like, they’re not required to offer these provisions. That may or may not be a good thing – allowing such withdrawals can cause folks to jeopardize their retirement funds, but at the same time if you really need the money, it’s pretty exasperating to not be able to use it.

    As far as I know, unless some underhanded dealings are in play, there is no benefit to your employer for your having money in a 401(k) plan.

    jb

  • My employer will not allow us to access our money in our 401 in any way. The only way is to quit the company. Is this legal and are they making money someway on our 401’s.
    Thanks, Dennis

  • Mike and Ripped Off –

    Sorry to hear about the issues with your plan(s). Unfortunately all you can do is work with your HR rep to request better information, access, and options in the plan. But since it’s an employer-paid benefit, you don’t have much say in the plan options otherwise.

    Make the best of the situation and as I said, work with your company to improve it if you can.

    Best of luck to you both –

    jb

  • Stephen, they’re doing the Same Thing at my company and we have a july 11th deadline approaching that they’re not addressing. The company is:
    ** changing to a new 401K investment company (from Fidelity to Aon Hewitt / BYU Mellon), we wish we could stay at Fidelity!!
    ** creating a 2 week blackout period which will stop any redistribution of funds
    ** forcing the employees to go to the default investments
    ** refusing to tell the employees what the default accounts / investments are
    ** refusing to discuss any costs (i.e. transfer fees, re-investment fess, etc.)
    ** In addition, the company has told Fidelity to NOT allow rollover of the funds.

    Sounds familiar. I get the feeling this is happening across corporate america. It’s OUR MONEY.

    “Is any of this legal?” Does anybody know? What is the best way to prevent/get around this? Should we confront HR before July 11th? It feels like it’s too late…

    Am feeling Very Ripped Off.

  • My company recently switched us to a crappier plan – less fund choices, etc, but through the same company (Fidelity). So they automatically switched over what our investment choices were – that was really annoying in-and-of itself. I ended up investing in things I didn’t really want to last month. In order to get my old choices back, they made me sign up for a brokerage account (free) on top of the 401k account in order to invest in the funds I had previously invested in, but it’s all a much cumbersome process now.

    Anyway, that was annoying, but on top of that, they are also actually taking the existing funds that were invested in the (now unavailable to us without brokerage account) mutual funds and moving them to the new funds.

    So let’s say I had invested in Japan, Canada, etc. mutual funds – they would have moved all of that into some generic retirement fund, had I not found out today. I’m sure a lot of employees will be upset once they realize this (most do not check their accounts as often as I do).

    Do they actually have a legal right to move my investments like that? And what about changing my investment selections? It seems like this is my money, and it’s already invested, so how can they mess with it? I am actually suspicious about some pump and dump ponzi scheme, with all of these retirement funds being redirected under-the-radar and without consent.

    They sent out really lengthy, ambiguous literature about “plan changes” and made the whole issue clear as mud.

    In my opinion, they should have sent an explicit email stating “X will happen if you do not do Y by this date”.

    But on top of that, I am really concerned about the power they wield over my investments, and I’m debating whether to even continue investing in the 401k.

    Is this legal? Do employees have any recourse? Are they saving money by doing this to us? What are your thoughts?

  • Stephen –
    It doesn’t seem legal, but it’s possible that you’re not interpreting the changes completely. I would suggest opening a dialog with the plan administrator to get a good understanding of just what exactly is going on.

    Refusal to provide information is not allowed – you deserve information about your plan, so continue asking questions. After all, it’s your money, right?

    Best of luck to you –

    jb

  • My employer is changing to a new 401K investment company (from Fidelity to Milliman). The company is creating a 2 week blackout period which will stop any redistribution of funds. Also, they are forcing the employees to go to the default investments. They are refusing to tell the employees what the default accounts / investments are. They are also refusing to discuss any costs (i.e. transfer fees, re-investment fess, etc.). In addition, the company has told Fidelity to NOT allow rollover of the funds. Is any of this legal? I know they can change the investment firm. But, how can they control MY funds I have contributed and not allow me to roll those funds into another qualifying plan?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Copyright 2014 FiGuide.com   About Us   Contact Us   Our Advisors       Login