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Access to Retirement Accounts Expanded

Insight Thomas M. White Thomas M. White · March 26, 2020

On Friday, March 27, the president signed historic legislation that temporarily expands the ability of individuals to access their retirement accounts during the pandemic.

The bill waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty for individuals who withdraw up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts, including retirement plans and IRAs as a consequence of the coronavirus. Those who may take advantage of this opportunity are individuals who have been diagnosed with the COVID 19 virus based on a government-approved test; their spouse or dependents who have been diagnosed by such a test; individuals who have experienced "adverse financial consequences" as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off or having worked reduced hours; those individuals who are unable to work due to a lack of childcare due to COVID 19; and those who have lost their business because of COVID 19.

Administrators will be able to rely on certifications provided by individuals that they satisfy the requirements specified in the preceding paragraph. Income tax on the amount withdrawn may be paid ratably over three years and the amount withdrawn may be re-contributed within three years without regard to the Internal Revenue Code's contribution limitation.

The maximum amount that may be borrowed from an individual's plan account has also been raised. 100% of an individual's account may be utilized to obtain a loan and the maximum loan has been increased for this period from $50,000 to $100,000.

This is a fast-evolving area.  Please let me know if you have any questions.


Thomas M. White specializes in the full scope of human resources management, such as Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation, Healthcare, and Employment Law. He began his practice shortly after ERISA was enacted. In this capacity, he has undertaken a full range of contentious, non-contentious and transactional benefits and employment work, and also has extensive experience in the development, documentation and administration of executive compensation programs. He has worked on behalf of clients ranging in size from start-ups to Fortune 500 enterprises. Read more about Thomas here.

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