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Updated guidance for loans and withdrawals from UC Retirement Savings Program plans for those impacted by COVID-19

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This article was updated on June 30, 2020, with additional guidance from the IRS.

On May 21, 2020, the UC Board of Regents voted to implement provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) designed to make it easier for participants to access funds from their retirement savings plans. These optional provisions required approval from the Regents, who are responsible for overseeing the UC Retirement Savings Program (which includes the Defined Contribution Plan, Tax-Deferred 403(b) Plan, and 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan). 

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The IRS released further guidance on these provisions on June 19, 2020, including expanding the categories of eligible participants. In particular, the definition of a “qualified individual” eligible for a COVID-related retirement plan distribution or loan has been expanded to include any member of your household who experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of COVID-19. The individual must share your principal residence.

To stay up to date on continuing changes, be sure to check UCnet and Current News on myUCretirement.com regularly for updates.

What you need to know

Who qualifies?

The CARES Act is designed to help by extending access to loans and withdrawals from employer-sponsored retirement savings plans like UC’s voluntary plans. Eligible participants include:

  • You, your spouse or your dependent who is diagnosed with COVID-19*
  • You, your spouse or someone who shares your principal residence who experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of COVID-19

* You must self-certify that you, your spouse or your dependent (as defined in Internal Revenue Code section 152) is diagnosed with the virus SARS-CoV-2 or with coronavirus disease 2019 (both referred to as “COVID-19”) by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (including a test authorized under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).

If you or a dependent are diagnosed with the virus SARS-Co-V-2 or with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), or you experience adverse financial consequences as a result of the virus or disease, the CARES Act is designed to help by extending access to loans and withdrawals from employer-sponsored retirement savings plans like UC’s.

Withdrawals from the UC 403(b), 457(b) and DC Plan

  • The CARES Act allows you to withdraw 100% of your own vested balances up to $100,000 (whichever is less) from your UC 403(b), 457(b) plan, or DC Plan account.
  • You won’t owe the customary early withdrawal penalty when you withdraw under the CARES Act provision.
  • You are still subject to federal income tax on your withdrawal, but it can be spread out evenly over three years. Check with your state tax board for more information about how this applies to your state income taxes.
  • You may also repay all or part of your CARES Act withdrawal within three years and, if you do, your repayment won’t be subject to the annual IRS contribution limit. That means it won’t affect the amount you would normally contribute to your UC plan. You may also have an opportunity to recover the income taxes that you originally paid with respect to your CARES Act distribution.
  • CARES Act withdrawals are available until December 30, 2020.

403(b) Plan Loans

  • The CARES Act increases the maximum amount you can borrow from your UC 403(b) Plan. This increase is available until September 22, 2020 (180 days since the CARES Act was enacted). Currently, you can borrow up to 50% of your total UC Retirement Savings Program account balance up to $50,000. Under the CARES Act, you can borrow up to 100% of your vested 403(b) plan balance up to $100,000, whichever is less. Note: If you’ve taken a loan in the past 12 months, the amount you can borrow will be reduced by the highest outstanding loan balance. 
  • If you are currently repaying a UC 403(b) Plan loan or request a CARES Act loan, you can delay your repayments until after December 31, 2020.

What qualifies as adverse financial consequences?

To qualify for a CARES Act withdrawal or loan, or to delay a loan repayment, you must self-certify that you, your spouse or someone who shares your principal residence faced at least one of the following adverse financial consequences as a result of COVID-19:

  • Being quarantined, furloughed or laid off, or having work hours reduced
  • Being unable to work due to lack of childcare
  • A reduction in pay (or self-employment income)
  • Having a job offer rescinded or start date for a job delayed
  • Closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by you, your spouse or a member of your household

Important considerations

Weigh the consequences on your future financial security before you tap into your UC retirement savings accounts, especially in volatile markets. If you have access to other means of funding, such as home equity, a family member, or other viable sources of short-term cash, consider these options as well.

Call Fidelity at 1-866-682-7787 to request a withdrawal or loan, or to delay your current loan repayments.

Where to go for more information

  • To understand UC 403(b) Plan loans, read How 403(b) Plan Loans Work.
  • To learn more about the CARES Act or find updates on its provisions, visit irs.gov.
  • If you have questions about the CARES Act or need guidance on accessing your retirement funds through these provisions, call a UC-dedicated Fidelity Retirement Planner at 1-800-558-9182.

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