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Retirement Topics - Significant Ages for Retirement Plan Participants

Your age determines what actions you may take in your retirement plan. For instance, your age affects when you may:

  • join a plan,
  • make catch-up contributions,
  • take money from your plan without paying additional taxes, and
  • be required to take money from your plan.

 

Age Significance
21

An employer-sponsored retirement plan cannot exclude an employee from participating after the employee turns age 21 (and completes the necessary service requirement).

Note: SIMPLE IRA plans have no minimum age requirement.

 

 50

In the year of turning 50 or older, annual catch-up contributions may be made to:

  • IRAs
  • employer-sponsored plans that accept elective deferrals

A public safety employee who receives a distribution from a governmental defined benefit plan after separation from service is not subject to the 10% additional tax on early distributions if the distribution occurs in the year of turning 50 or older.

 

 55 An employee who receives a distribution from a qualified plan after separation from service is not subject to the 10% additional tax on early distributions if the distribution occurs in the year of turning 55 or older.

 
59½ Distributions from qualified retirement plans, including IRAs, are not subject to the 10% additional tax on early distributions once the recipient turns 59½.

 
 62 A pension plan may pay benefits to a participant age 62 or older even if the participant has not separated from employment. The rules regarding a plan’s youngest permissible normal retirement age have a safe harbor of age 62.

 
 65

Defined benefit plans often calculate retirement benefits based on annuities beginning at age 65.

Unless a participant elects otherwise, benefits under a qualified plan must begin within 60 days after the close of the latest plan year in which the participant: 

  1. turns 65 (or the plan’s normal retirement age, if earlier);
  2. completes 10 years of plan participation; or
  3. terminates service with the employer.
 70½ Required minimum distributions must generally start by April 1 following the year of turning 70½.

A qualified plan may allow participants to delay taking distributions until after retirement (unless the participant is a 5% owner).

 
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 04-Apr-2014