In the article that Heidi wrote, we learned about what a 401(k) plan is and how it works. So, what is a 403(b) plan and who is eligible for one?
A 403(b) plan is a type of retirement plan for tax exempt organizations, specific employees of public schools (teachers, school administrator, professors), certain ministers, nurses, doctors, or librarians. A 403(b)-retirement plan is like a 401(k) in how it is funded through employee contributions. There are three types of accounts for 403(b) plans: annuity contracts with insurance companies, custodial accounts made of mutual funds – called a 403(b)(7), and retirement income accounts for church employees, typically invested in mutual funds and annuities – called a 403(b)(9). An employee usually can choose among several investments to build his or her portfolio, and design the account based on risk tolerance, such as conservative, balanced or aggressive. (As discussed in the podcast with Erin Martin, make sure to check the fees when choosing where to direct your funds.)
Like a 401(k) plan, your employer may choose to do a matching program. For instance, this means that if you put in 3 percent of your salary into a 403(b), your company could put in the same amount if they do 100% matching. Other companies may do a 50% matching rate. This means that if you put in 6%, they will match up to 3%. (Free money!!) Make sure to check with your HR department on if and how your company matching program works when setting up your 403(b) so that you can take full advantage of the program
Like a 401(k), a 403(b) has a contribution threshold. For the year of 2019 the contribution amount is: $19,000. If you are age 50 and older, you can contribute an additional $6,000 a year. Also, if permitted by the employer, a 403(b) plan may allow for an additional catch-up if an employee has worked for fifteen years or more. You may be able to stack these additional contributions, although there are limits and it is a bit confusing, which is why it is important to seek the advice of a financial advisor to navigate these additional contributions.
Another way that a 403(b) plan is like a 401(k) is that you will be penalized if you withdraw funds before the age of 59 ½ at a rate of 10 percent. (Yikes!)
One caveat is that there are certain circumstances that funds can be withdrawn without penalty such as separating from an employer when a person reaches age 55, a qualified medical expense, death of the employee or disability.
So, what happens if you change employers? Well, potentially there are four possibilities: roll the funds into an IRA, keep in the current plan, transfer to a new employer plan or cash out the account. Not all of these options may be available to you, so this is where speaking with your financial advisor and human resources department before leaving your current employer is very important.
As a reminder: I am not a financial professional and urge you to seek the advice of a financial advisor when making your own financial decisions.
Until next time, face your financial fear! 😉
Written By: Nicole Ellsworth (@lacelemonslove)
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