Roadmap to Retirement: Switching Jobs or Retiring

When changing jobs or retiring you may have choices to make about your retirement money. The choices will depend on your age and the type of plan you are in, as well as the rules of the plan.

If you are in a traditional pension plan, you won’t be able to receive your benefits until you meet the plan’s requirements for retirement, or early retirement if the plan rules include early retirement.

If you are in a cash balance or 401(k)-type plan you will have the right to either leave your retirement money in your employer’s plan when you leave the job or, if the plan rules permit, take your money out. Often you can roll over the money into another retirement fund. If you take your money out of the employer’s plan but do not put it into another retirement fund, the money could be subject to tax. Whatever you do, check your options carefully.

General Information

Claiming your benefits

Form and amount of benefits

Traditional pension plans must offer benefit payments for married participants in the form of a Qualified Joint and Survivor Annuity (QJSA). The survivor option can be rejected only if the employee and spouse agree. Retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s are not required to offer an annuity form of benefit.

Keeping plan documents for future reference

When leaving a job or retiring you should take with you the latest available information about your retirement plan and benefits, especially the latest Summary Plan Description and your most recent individual benefit statements. If you are leaving employment without receiving your vested benefits, the plan administrator should give you a deferred vested statement listing the benefits due to you at a future date. If the plan administrator fails to provide any of this information, you have a right to request it.

Payment issues after retirement

Finding a former employer in order to apply for benefits

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