Can You Roll Over a 401k While Still Employed

You generally can’t roll over a 401k while employed by the plan sponsor. A 401k rollover is the process of moving funds from one retirement account to another, but it typically requires you to leave your current job and terminate your 401k plan. However, there are some exceptions. For example, you may be able to do a direct rollover to an IRA or another 401k plan if your employer allows it. It’s important to check with your plan administrator and tax advisor to determine if you’re eligible for a rollover while still employed.

Eligibility Requirements for In-Service Rollovers

  • Plan Specific Requirements: Not all 401k plans allow for in-service rollovers. Check your plan’s specific rules.
  • Age 59½ Rule: Generally, you cannot make an in-service rollover if you are under age 59½. Exceptions exist for specific hardship events.
  • Separation from Service: Some plans allow in-service rollovers only if you are separating from service.
  • Hardship Withdrawals: Some plans allow in-service rollovers of hardship withdrawals, but restrictions and tax implications apply.
Hardship EventIn-Service Rollover Allowed?
Medical expensesYes
Tuition and related expensesYes
Purchase of a principal residenceYes
Funeral expensesYes

Note: In-service rollovers may have tax implications. Consult with a tax advisor for specific guidance.

Tax Implications of Rolling Over a 401k While Employed

Rolling over a 401k while still employed can have significant tax implications. It’s important to understand these implications before making a decision.

  • Taxes on the distribution: When you roll over a 401k, you will typically have to pay taxes on the distribution. This is because the distribution is considered a taxable event.
  • 10% early withdrawal penalty: If you are under the age of 59½, you may also have to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty. This penalty is in addition to the income taxes you will owe.
  • Tax-deferred growth: If you roll over your 401k into a traditional IRA or another employer-sponsored plan, the funds will continue to grow tax-deferred. This means that you will not have to pay taxes on the growth until you withdraw the funds.
Type of RolloverTaxes Due10% Early Withdrawal Penalty
Direct rolloverNoneNone
Indirect rolloverTaxes due on amount not rolled over within 60 days10% if under age 59½
Roth 401k to Roth IRANoneNone

Benefits of Rolling Over a 401k During Employment

Rolling over a 401(k) to another retirement account while still employed offers several benefits:

  • Lower fees: New accounts may have lower management and administrative fees than your current plan.
  • More investment options: You may have access to a wider range of investment choices, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
  • Avoid early withdrawal penalties: If you leave your job and cash out your 401(k) before age 59.5, you may incur a 10% early withdrawal penalty. Rolling over avoids this.
  • Protect against plan closures: If your employer closes your 401(k) plan, you may have limited options for your funds. Rolling over protects your retirement savings.
  • Tax benefits: Rollover distributions are tax-free, preserving the tax advantages of your retirement savings.


Before rolling over, consider the following factors:

  • 401(k) plan rules: Some plans may restrict rollovers while you’re an active employee.
  • Taxes: Rolling over to an individual retirement account (IRA) can have different tax implications than rolling over to another 401(k).
  • Investment performance: Research the investment options available in your new account to ensure their alignment with your retirement goals.

Steps to Roll Over a 401(k) While Still Employed

1Request a rollover form from the new account provider.
2Complete the form and provide it to your current 401(k) plan administrator.
3The administrator will send funds directly to the new account.

Note: Consult with a financial advisor to determine the most suitable rollover option for your specific situation.

Potential Drawbacks of In-Service Rollovers

While in-service rollovers offer flexibility, it’s important to consider their potential drawbacks before making a decision:

  • Loss of Employer Matching Contributions: By rolling over your 401(k) balance, you will forfeit any future employer matching contributions on those funds.
  • Tax Implications: If you roll over your money to a traditional IRA, it will grow tax-deferred. However, you will need to pay taxes on withdrawals during retirement. If you roll over to a Roth IRA, your contributions will be taxed now, but withdrawals in retirement will be tax-free.
  • Investment Limitations: IRAs have different investment options and limitations compared to employer-sponsored retirement plans. You may have less flexibility or access to certain investments in an IRA.
  • Plan Eligibility: If your new employer offers a different 401(k) plan, you may not be eligible to roll over your old balance into it. In such cases, you may have to consider other options such as leaving your money in the old 401(k) or converting it to an IRA.

To help you make an informed decision, consider the following table summarizing the key differences between in-service rollovers and keeping your 401(k) with your current employer:

In-Service RolloverKeep 401(k) with Current Employer
Employer Matching ContributionsLose future matching contributionsPotential for future matching contributions
Tax ImplicationsTax-deferred growth in traditional IRA; tax-free growth in Roth IRATax-deferred growth in 401(k); taxes on withdrawals during retirement
Investment OptionsLimited options compared to 401(k)Typically wider range of investment options
Plan EligibilityMay not be able to roll over to new employer’s 401(k)Remains invested in your current employer’s 401(k)

Hey there, thanks for sticking with me to the end of this 401(k) rollover chat! I know it can be a bit of a snooze fest, but hopefully this article cleared up some of the fog. Remember, whether or not you can roll over your 401(k) while you’re still working depends on your specific situation and your employer’s plan. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to your HR department or a financial advisor if you have any questions. Keep checking back for more financial wisdom and life hacks. Cheers!