How can I access money in my 401k?

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I contributed a percentage of my income into a 401k program. I no longer work for that employer. I need the funds to take care of some responsibilities. I only contributed for 18 months and I am aware that I will not receive all of my money back. However I need whatever I can get back. How do I cash it in.




  1. Find your paperwork and get ahold of the company,Merril/Lynch ,or whoever your company went through

  2. If you take out the money from the 401(K), you will lose about 40% to taxes and penalties.  That is a pretty hefty hit.  You would be much better off getting a temporary part time job to take care of your "responsibilities" and roll your 401(K) over into an IRA.

  3. As a payroll clerk let me tell you I LOVE giving back small cash disbursements (it saves a LOT of trouble every year!)   Call your old company and ask for the forms.  Any money you put in is yours-plus or minus gains and losses.  Any money the company matched you may or may not have access to a percentage.  Please keep in mind there are serious tax disadvantages of doing anything other than rolling this.   20% goes to federal taxes, 10% to state taxes before you get a penny.   You must claim it as income on your federal and state income forms with a 10% penalty.   it's a VERY ugly situation-  I just paid 300 plus dollars to roll over 1100, just to stay out of that mess.  

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