Can I take Hardship Withdrawals from my 401k?

10 09 2013

Jonathan N. Castle, MSFS, CFP

Jonathan N. Castle, MSFS, CFP

We recently had a question from a client about taking hardship withdrawals from his retirement plan. Essentially, the question was – what are they, and how do I do it? So, here is the answer we gave:

First, if you are past age 55, and are NO LONGER working for your employer – AND you have not taken the 401k and rolled it into an IRA – then you can make withdrawals from that account without the normal 10% early withdrawal penalty that typically accompanies these accounts. This is a special rule for qualified retirement plans and does not apply to IRA’s. In fact, if you roll the money to an IRA, you lose this provision and have to wait until age 59 and 1/2.

First – you must know that employers are not REQUIRED to offer hardship withdrawals – but usually they do because the plans are often “turnkey” and this feature is built in to turnkey plans. So, if you are still employed and need money from your employer retirement plan – then the simplest answer is that each plan usually has a feature to accomplish this. In many plans, you go onto the plan website, and look for “loans or withdrawals” and merely follow the procedure. If your employer plan does not have a website, or the website does is not set up to facilitate these online, then you probably have to complete a form with your HR department and/or the plan sponsor. You must certify that the Hardship withdrawal is for a purpose that falls within the allowable rules:

To buy a primary residence
To prevent foreclosure of eviction from your home
To pay college tuition for yourself or for a dependent
To pay un-reimbursed medical expenses for yourself or a dependent

Now there are also “exceptions” that do not fall into the hardship withdrawal category. They are literally as they sound – “exceptions” to the 10% penalty:

Disability
Death
Medical debt for expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI
A court order for alimony or child support
You set up “substantially equal payments” for your life expectancy.

This last one – substantially equal payments – apply to IRA’s too, and are known as 72t distributions. Do not try to set this up yourself, consult with a CPA or a CFP because they are complex and the penalty for messing it up is quite harsh.

I hope this gets you onto the right path. Good luck with the obstacles you are facing!

Jon Castle
http://www.Wealthguards.com

This blog is for informational purposes only. This is neither an offer to purchase nor sell any securities. All investing involves the potential of loss – including invested principal. Indices quoted are general barometers of security price movement. You cannot invest directly in an index. All information is obtained from sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. No tax or legal advice is given nor intended.

Investment advisory services provided by Paragon Wealth Strategies, LLC, a registered investment advisor.

10245 Centurion Pkwy. N. Ste 105, Jacksonville FL 32256 (904) 861-0093 http://www.WealthGuards.com

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP(R), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame logo) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements

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YABBUTS: “Yeah, but…”

27 10 2009

CastleInternetPhotoTiniest

By Jon Castle, CFP®, ChFC®

I got up this morning and turned on one of  the financial pornography channels as usual.  I won’t say which one it was, but, as a financial advisor and wealth manager, I usually begin my day with the financial news shows so I can have an idea of what is going on in the world of finance before I show up for work.

All I can say is… What Drama Queens!  I have never seen a bunch of highly intelligent, highly educated people whining and crying and “oh, the sky is falling” as I have today.  They had one guest host on there who had the unmitigated gall to suggest that our economy is slowly recovering, and that things were getting better – and that is why the stock market is up 60% since March and will continue to rise, with corrections and breaks over time, as is normal – and you would have thought that this person just committed some sort of blasphemy and should be burned at the stake!

YABBUTS.

“Yeah, but… the market dropped so much.” 

“Yeah, but… unemployment is down and how can the economy get better until unemployment is fixed?” 

“Yeah, but… the government stimulus packages are just about over and that put in a false bottom and now we will fall off the edge of the universe as we know it!” 

“Yeah, but the consumer remembers the recession and that will have an effect on what people buy going forward… ie, nothing, ever ever ever again”

“Yeah, but the dollar is weak and getting weaker.  No one really knows what that means… but is sounds scary so we better harp on it for a while… inspite of the fact it could totally reverse the trade gap and end outsourcing of jobs to other countries… we better monger up some fear cuz a weak dollar sounds… um… unpatriotic.   Doesn’t it?”

I have not heard so much Chicken Little since last October and honestly, it turned my stomach.   It reminds me of these fear-mongering authors who write a new financial gloom and doom book every 5 years or so, just to cash in on the conspiracy theorist market who will buy their books.

One would think that such learned gloomy economists would stop and realize that some economic indicators are “leading indicators” and some economic indicators are “lagging indicators.” 

Leading indicators (ie – indicators which PREDICT the direction of the economy) are things like stock markets, interest rates, bank portfolios, and corporate earnings predictions.  So, for example, if the stock market has reversed course and headed sharply up over a period of several months, along with very low interest rates, bank portfolios that are not overextended in loans, and companies currently reporting low earnings but predicting better earnings next quarter – those are forward-looking events and would tend to suggest better days are around the corner.  Oddly enough – that is just about ALL the economic data that is out there right now.

Lagging indicators, on the other hand – such as commodity and home prices, inventories, and unemployment – basically tell us where we HAVE BEEN – not where we are going.  So, if businesses have been laying people off, or home prices have fallen significantly, these indicators are primarily a symptom of economic conditions, not necessarily predictors of where we are going in the future.  Thus, they are known as lagging indicators, as they LAG the real economy.  They may get worse – but they do NOT PREDICT the direction of the economy – the leading indicators do.  Thus the term:  LEADING.

Again, I am amazed at how supposedly learned economists can think that unemployment somehow drives the stock market.  How can a lagging indicator possibly drive a forward-looking indicator?  People invest for the future, not the past.

Which brings us to the crux of the issue:  Lack of faith.  There is so much Chicken Littling and YABBUTTING… by these supposedly learned economists and professors, whom I’m convinced live their lives in tiny little rooms doing nothing but armchair-generaling and writing about other people’s actions, that they are missing the truly wondrous events literally unfolding before our eyes. 

Most economic growth is created when mankind, whereever he or she may be – creates something new out of necessity or invention, or adapts previously unused techniques or technology to increase productivity – or starts a new business or idea because they don’t have a job – and, in doing so, creates new jobs and opportunities for society as a whole.

What new and previously unthought of inventions will be released next year? 

Did you know that there is a company that is releasing a mind-controlled video game – before Christmas of this year?!  Whether or not it makes any money – can you imagine the applications of this type of technology? 

Did you know they are building spaceships to replace the “aging space shuttle fleet?”  I remember when the space shuttle was new!

Did you know that the world’s total knowledge base doubles an estimated every three years?  TOTAL!  Wow.  That boggles the mind.

Did you know that the major drug companies, according to Time Magazine, are spending $600,000 per day to support healthcare reform?  Someone, somewhere must think its pretty good for somebody’s business for it to go thru – and that will likely mean JOBS and economic growth.

Whether it will or not, who knows.  Not you.  Not me.  The free markets will decide.  Either way – humanity – and America – will survive.  Betting against humanity has been a bad bet for thousands of years now, and I’m not ready to start anytime soon.

And these perma-bear economists sit in their office… looking at yesterday’s data… yeah, but… yeah, but…  yeah, but…

Get a real job!  Better yet – start up a business and give someone else one!

This blog is for informational purposes only.  This is neither an offer to purchase nor sell any securities.  All investing involves the potential of loss – including invested principal.  Indices quoted are general barometers of security price movement.  You cannot invest directly in an index.  All information is obtained from sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.  No tax or legal advice is given nor intended.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP(R), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame logo) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

Investment advisory services provided by PARAGON Wealth Strategies, LLC, a registered investment advisor. 

10245 Centurion Pkwy. N. Ste 105, Jacksonville FL 32256   (904) 861-0093

www.WealthGuards.com





Senate Committee to examine 401k target-date funds

21 10 2009

Michelle New Pic

By Michelle Ash, CFP®, CDFA™

 

If you have an employer sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or a 403(b), you have likely seen “target-date” funds amongst your investment choices. These are funds which state a date, such as 2010 or 2020 as the “target date” for retirement.  The idea behind these funds is that they are appropriately balanced with an equity and fixed income mixture that is appropriate for someone that is that number of years away from retirement.  Over time, the funds automatically become more conservative as the individual draws closer to retirement. The idea is to put the risk tolerance and investment management with these funds on autopilot.

But the Senate Committee on Aging will begin examination this month of the fees, risks, and potential conflicts of interest associated with these funds.

A recent analysis by BrightScope of the investment options in nearly 13,000 plans found that the expenses charged by target-date funds are significantly higher than those charged by other funds on plan’s core investment menus.(1)  Because these funds are now the default investment option of most plans, meaning investors are placed into them automatically if they don’t select other investment choices, this may put some workers at a disadvantage. 

Target-date funds also have no benchmark for comparison. So, who’s to say what the appropriate blend for a target date 2010 fund would be? Consequently, returns from these funds have varied widely over recent years; sometimes causing investors who thought their money was invested relatively safely since they were close to retirement, to experience significant losses.

Our hope is that the Senate Committee’s examination will provide standards for these funds so that, like any other type of fund out there, an investor can ultimately determine for themselves if the fund is truly appropriate for their situation in terms of risk, cost, and personal best interest.

 

(1)  Source: “Companies take reins of workers’ 401k’s”, http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com, 10/21/09

This blog is for informational purposes only.  This is neither an offer to purchase nor sell any securities.  All investing involves the potential of loss – including invested principal.  Indices quoted are general barometers of security price movement.  You cannot invest directly in an index.  All information is obtained from sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.  No tax or legal advice is given nor intended.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP(R), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame logo) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

Investment advisory services provided by PARAGON Wealth Strategies, LLC, a registered investment advisor. 

10245 Centurion Pkwy. N. Ste 105, Jacksonville FL 32256   (904) 861-0093

www.WealthGuards.com





Is it Time to Market Time?

14 10 2009

Mike Carignan Internet

by Mike Carignan, CRPC

I was watching one of the many financial media/disinformation sources this morning and they were talking about the fact that the S&P 500 has had 6 days closing up. This is the most successive up days in the last 2 years. The follow-up question is one that we hear a lot…”Is it time to get back into the market?” Well, let’s think about the last year and where we are.

Last October the market “melted down”.   The media had a field day and was constantly bombarding us with the doom and gloom of the day.  It seemed every day there was some new revelation or calamity befalling the market that was going to cause the end of investing as we know it.  What followed was a mass exodus of money from equity and corporate bond investments into government debt and cash.  Many investors finally “had enough” in late February when the S&P 500 broke through 750 and lost another 70+ points…and they’ve been sitting on the sidelines since.

What have they missed?  Since the March low the S&P 500 has rocketed a whopping 400 points from 676 to 1076 as of 10/12/09. That’s a 59.2% increase.

This is a great illustration of why market timing is so dangerous. It gives us a rational for giving in to our worst fears, selling when everyone else is panicked and then waiting for the other shoe to drop while the market rebounds strongly.

The moral of the story…decide if you want to invest for the long term result or for the thrill of the gamble.

 

This blog is for informational purposes only.  This is neither an offer to purchase nor sell any securities.  All investing involves the potential of loss – including invested principal.  Indices quoted are general barometers of security price movement.  You cannot invest directly in an index.  All information is obtained from sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.  No tax or legal advice is given nor intended.

Investment advisory services provided by PARAGON Wealth Strategies, LLC, a registered investment advisor. 

10245 Centurion Pkwy. N. Ste 105, Jacksonville FL 32256   (904) 861-0093

www.WealthGuards.com