A Helpful Guide on How to Cash 401k from Your Old Job

Daily, hundreds and thousands of workers switch their jobs from one organization to the next. Throughout this process, the one thing that must be taken care of at all costs is an employee’s 401k cash-out plan.

There are few options for the employee regarding it, including either cashing out the 401k or simply transferring their funds to a rollover IRA (Individual Retirement Account.) 

If you are looking for some information on how to cash out 401k from your old job, you are fortunate. In this guide, we tell everything you need to know about your 401k and whether it is possible to cash out 401k funds from your old job, whether you have quit the job, been fired, or are still employed.

Two things you can do to cash out the money


It is relatively easy and straightforward to cash out a 401k from your old job. Your previous employer should guide you through the process and give you specific instructions on pursuing the procedure.

But if your employer fails to provide you instructions, you will simply need to log into your benefits administrator and go with the option of cashing out your 401k

Still, if you are absolutely clueless on how to cash out your 401k from your previous employer and have no one to guide you at all, you should try doing one of the following:

  • Talk to a representative from your 401k benefits administrator (i.e., Fidelity)
  • Reach out to a Human Resource agent at your previous job and talk to them.

While it is possible to cash out your 401k from your last job, it is definitely not recommended, and there are better options. Instead of cashing it out when you switch to another job, you should consider other better options like Rollover IRA.

Basically, a rollover IRA is an IRA retirement account. It enables you to transfer your 401k funds when you switch to another employer. 

How long does it take to get your 401k after you get fired?

If you get fired from your job, it is possible to cash out the 401k plan even if you are still under 59 ½ years old. However, there is a possibility for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to charge a 10% penalty for withdrawing your 401k funds earlier than usual. However, this is subject to specific exceptions. 

Whether you lose your job or get fired, your access to 401k funds primarily depends on your plan’s valuation rules, your investments, valuation dates, and the time duration required for processing your paperwork. 

Every 401k has a summarized plan description or plan document that clearly states when employees can withdraw or distribute the funds. A few companies recommend employees should secure their money in the 401k till the age of 65, although it is relatively uncommon. Many companies offer more leniency in the funds’ distribution.  

Companies value the participants’ balances in the 401k on different agendas. Some firms do it every day or every month, while some do it every quarter, 6 months, or every year. If your previous firm does it infrequently, you might need to wait till the upcoming valuation date to distribute the plan’s funds. 

➡LEARN MORE: If I make 1000 a week how much taxes are taken out?

Can I cash out my 401k without quitting my job?

The answer is yes; in the majority of the cases, you can cash out your 401k without quitting your job. Typically, the 401k plan stays intact till the period you are employed and have the job. However, there are specific ways you can access the funds even if you are still working with the same employer. 

Note that under certain circumstances, this is bound to lead to penalties and taxes. It is always recommended to wait till the age of 59 ½ to cash out your 401k account. This is the minimum age legitimately drawn by the law to distribute or withdraw your funds without facing any penalties. 

You must be aware that the funds from 401k will be included in your standard incoming to allocate a taxable yearly income.

Hence, if you are still employed and receive your retirement funds, there might be a substantial tax amount piling up on your name for the year. Based on your plan, at this point, you are allowed to either take a lump sum amount or yearly payments. 

If your plan permits it, you can take a loan against your 401k account. Though you won’t get your 401k amount, you will be allowed to use the highest of half of the amount you have invested in your 401k account, i.e., approximately up to $50,000. 

This money isn’t taxable, provided you repay the amount as per IRS’s rules. You will have to pay the money back within 5 years. The interest and payments will revert to your account. However, if you quit the job during this tenure, the loan will be due straightaway.