Lynn Brenner Lynn Brenner

Brenner answers questions about all aspects of family finance.

I'm 67 years old and still employed. I have 403(b) accounts from previous jobs. Assuming I still work at 70, must I take distributions from those accounts? I also have some QDRO 403(b) accounts from my ex-husband's previous jobs. Are distributions required from those QDRO accounts?


Federal law requires you to begin taking minimum annual distributions from your tax-deferred retirement accounts -- including accounts awarded to you in a divorce pursuant to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO -- by April 1 of the year after you turn 701/2.

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There's one exception: If you're still working, you don't have to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from the retirement plan at your current job unless you own 5 percent or more of the company. But even if you're employed, you must take RMDs from your IRAs and from accounts you accumulated at previous jobs.

You can do a single RMD calculation for multiple 403(b) accounts based on their total value, and take the distribution from any one of them. (But in some cases, you may want to do separate calculations. The reason: If a 403(b) plan has kept separate pre-1987 records, contributions made before 1987 aren't subject to RMD rules until you turn 75.) You can also lump your IRAs together for RMD calculation purposes. But you can't combine IRAs and 403(b)s. If you owned two IRAs and four 403(b)s, for example, you could do two RMD calculations -- one for the IRAs and one for the 403(b)s. And just to complicate life, you must do a separate calculation and take a separate distribution for each 401(k) and each 457 plan you own.

The bottom line After turning 701/2, you must start taking distributions from all your tax-deferred retirement accounts except the one sponsored by your current employer.

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