When Can You Withdraw From a 457 Deferred Compensation Plan?

You don't pay additional tax penalties for early 457 withdrawals.

You don't pay additional tax penalties for early 457 withdrawals.

State and local governments, in addition to other non-governmental, non-profit organizations, can offer 457 plans to help you save for retirement. In many ways, 457 plans function much like the 401(k) plans offered by many companies. As is the case with 401(k) plans, you're limited from accessing your money except in certain circumstances. When you do take a distribution from a 457 plan, you'll usually owe income taxes on the distribution.

Severance From Employment

When you retire or leave your job for any reason, you're permitted to make withdrawals from your 457 plan. Unlike other tax-deferred retirement plans such as IRAs or 401(k)s, you won't face a 10 percent early distribution penalty, even if you're under age 59 ½ . For example, if you take a $15,000 distribution, you'll owe income tax on the distribution, but you won't have to pay an extra $1,500 early withdrawal penalty as you would with a 401(k) or IRA. One option upon distribution is to roll your money over into another tax-deferred retirement account. This will allow you to maintain the tax-sheltered growth while avoiding taxes on the distribution.

Financial Hardship

The IRS permits 457 plans to allow hardship distributions for participants who face an unforeseeable financial emergency. Examples include illnesses or accidents, property loss caused by things like natural disasters, imminent foreclosure or funeral expenses. However, no plan is required to offer financial hardship distributions. Check your plan documents to see which of these "unforeseeable emergencies" qualify in your specific 457 plan.

Mandatory Distributions

Most employer-sponsored retirement plans, including 457 plans, require mandatory distributions after you reach age 70 ½. Distributions must begin no later than April 1 of the year after you turn 70 ½ . As with any other type of 457 plan distribution, required minimum distributions are taxable. You cannot roll them over into another tax-deferred account. The amount of your required minimum distribution is calculated annually based on your account value as of December 31 of the previous year and your age at the end of the year.

Death of the Account Holder

If you have a 457 plan and you die, your beneficiary can take distributions from the plan immediately. Beneficiary distributions avoid the early withdrawal penalty of 10 percent, regardless of the age of the beneficiary. However, distributions are still taxed as ordinary income. Beneficiaries can avoid taxation by rolling over the 457 distribution to a qualified retirement account of their own.

 

About the Author

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA, John Csiszar earned a Certified Financial Planner designation and served 18 years as an investment adviser. Csiszar has served as a technical writer for various financial firms and has extensive experience writing for online publications.

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