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Should I Tap My 401(k)?

So a 401(k) loan can come in handy if you really need the money and know you'll be able to pay back the money you borrow. Otherwise, I would steer clear.


At what age do distributions from 401(k) plans have to begin? –Mary, Illinois

The rules for distributions from 401(k) and other workplace retirement plans are the same as for IRAs, with one big exception. But first, here are the basic rules.

Generally, each plan participant must begin receiving at least the "required minimum distribution" (RMD) no later than April 1 of the year following the calendar year he or she reaches age 70 ½, just as with IRA accounts. The date on which the investor turns 70 ½ is known as the "required beginning date" (RBD). Subsequent RMD amounts must be distributed by Dec. 31 of each year. The plan administrator must figure the RMD for each participant and distribute the amount to each participant, who is required to withdraw an RMD from his or her plan account. 

The Exception

The exception to the rules pertains to employees who are still employed after reaching age 70 ½. If the plan allows it, and the employee is still employed after he or she reaches age 70 ½, the RBD could be delayed until April 1 following the year the employee retires. The option to delay the RBD is not available to employees who own at least 5 percent of the business.

One more point: Whether you are already making RMDs or are scheduled to make one this year, the requirement to make a distribution has been waived for 2009.

All the information presented on AARP.org is for educational and resource purposes only. We suggest that you consult with your financial or tax adviser with regard to your individual situation. Use of the information contained in this Web site is at the sole choice and risk of the reader.

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