Plan Comparison Chart

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Feature 403(b) Retirement Plan Qualified Retirement
Plan (401(a), 403(a),
and 401(k))
457(b) Public Plan 457(b) Private Plan
Eligibility and Participation Requirements Generally, eligibility may be extended to any individual who performs services for the employer. Generally, eligibility may be extended to any individual who performs services for the employer. Generally, eligibility may be extended to any individual who performs services for the employer. Participation must be limited to a "top-hat" group (a select group of management or highly compensated employees).
Employee Salary Reduction (before-tax) Contributions Yes. Generally limited to $16,500 (in 2010, higher limits in future years). Governed by Sections 415 and 402(g). No, except for 401(k) plans or government plans that are mandatory or have one-time irrevocable salary reduction agreements. Governed by Section 415. Yes. Lesser of $16,500 (in 2010, higher limits in future years) or 100% of compensation. Governed by Section 457. Yes. Lesser of $16,500 (in 2010, higher limits in future years) or 100% of compensation. Governed by Section 457. Once invested, funds become assets of the employer and subject to employer's creditors.
Section 415 Contribution Limits Applies. In 2010, limit is the lesser of $49,000 or 100% of compensation, subject to future indexing in $1,000 increments. Applies. In 2010, limit is the lesser of $49,000 or 100% of compensation, subject to future indexing in $1,000 increments. Does not apply. Does not apply.
Feature 403(b) Retirement Plan Qualified Retirement
Plan (401(a), 403(a),
and 401(k))
457(b) Public Plan 457(b) Private Plan
Section 402(g) Limit Applies. Limit is $16,500 in 2010 (higher limits in future years). Applies. Limit is $16,500 in 2010 (higher limits in future years). Does not apply. Does not apply.
Section 401(a)(17) Compensation Limit Applies. Limit is $245,000 in 2010, subject to future indexing in $5,000 increments. Applies. Limit is $245,000 in 2010, subject to future indexing in $5,000 increments. Does not apply. Does not apply.
Maximum Exclusion Allowance (MEA) Repealed effective January 1, 2002. Alternative limits A, B, and C also repealed. Not applicable to qualified plans. Not applicable to 457(b) public plans. Not applicable to 457(b) private plans.
Employee Salary Deduction (after-tax) Contributions Yes. 415 limits apply. Yes. 415 limits apply. No. No.
Feature 403(b) Retirement Plan Qualified Retirement
Plan (401(a), 403(a),
and 401(k))
457(b) Public Plan 457(b) Private Plan
Contribution Coordination Employee pre-tax contributions to a 403(b) and a 401(k) plan in the same year are limited in the aggregate to the Section 402(g) limit. However, 401(k) and 403(b) are not aggregated with 457(b) contributions. Employee pre-tax contributions to a 401(k) plan and a 403(b) plan in the same year are limited in the aggregate to the Section 402(g) limit. However, 401(k) and 403(b) are not aggregated with 457(b) contributions. The Section 402(g) limits for 401(k) or 403(b) contributions are not aggregated with 457(b) public contributions. The Section 402(g) limits for 401(k) or 403(b) contributions are not aggregated with 457(b) private contributions.
Age 50 Catch-up Amounts If plan permits, for those age 50 and over, an additional $5,500 (in 2010, higher amounts applying in future years) elective salary deferral permitted. Can use age 50 for 403(b) and 457(b) in the same year. One catch-up allowed for 401(k) and 403(b). For 401(k) only, if plan permits, for those age 50 and over, an additional $5,500 (in 2010, higher amounts applying in future years) elective salary deferral permitted. Can use age 50 for 401(k) and 457(b) in the same year. One catch-up allowed for 401(k) and 403(b). If plan permits, for those age 50 and over, an additional $5,500 (in 2010, higher amounts applying in future years) elective salary deferral permitted. Can use age 50 for 457(b) and 403(b) in the same year. If within 3 years of plan's normal retirement age, employee is eligible for the greater of age 50 catch-up or enhanced limit (not both). Not available.
Other Catch-up Amounts For those with 15 years or more of service at qualifying institution (same employer), up to an additional $3,000 elective salary deferral per year ($15,000 max lifetime). Prior year contributions may limit this amount. Employee eligible for both age 50 and 15-year catch-up. Not available. For those within three years of plan's normal retirement age, additional amount up to the lesser of twice the applicable limit or the applicable amount plus unused amounts from prior years. Employee eligible for greater of enhanced limit or age 50 catch-up, but not both. For those within three years of plan's normal retirement age, additional amount up to the lesser of twice the applicable limit or unused amounts from prior years.
Feature 403(b) Retirement Plan Qualified Retirement
Plan (401(a), 403(a),
and 401(k))
457(b) Public Plan 457(b) Private Plan
Total Contribution Limit (employer + employee) Lesser of 100% of taxable compensation or $49,000 in 2010. Governed by Section 415. Section 402(g) applies to elective deferral. Lesser of 100% of taxable compensation or $49,000 in 2010. Governed by Section 415. Section 402(g) also applies to elective deferral. Lesser of 100% of taxable compensation or $16,500 in 2010 (higher limits in future years). Governed by Section 457(b). Lesser of 100% of taxable compensation or $16,500 in 2010 (higher limits in future years). Governed by Section 457(b).
Prototype Plan No. Yes. No. No.
Model Plan Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Funding Funded - not subject to the creditors of the employer. Funded - not subject to the creditors of the employer. Funded - not subject to the creditors of the employer. Unfunded - subject to the rights of creditors of the employer.
Vesting: Employee Contributions Immediate. Immediate. Immediate. Immediate.
Feature 403(b) Retirement Plan Qualified Retirement
Plan (401(a), 403(a),
and 401(k))
457(b) Public Plan 457(b) Private Plan
Vesting: Employer Contributions For plan years beginning after 12/31/2006, all employer contributions must be fully vested either after three years, or in 20% increments beginning with the employee's second year of service. Full vesting after the employee has completed six years of service. For plan years beginning after 12/31/2006, all employer contributions must be fully vested either after three years, or in 20% increments beginning with the employee's second year of service. Full vesting after the employee has completed six years of service. Delayed vesting should be avoided, as it could result in participants exceeding annual limits. Delayed vesting should be avoided, as it could result in participants exceeding annual limits.
Maximum Waiting Periods For plans with immediate vesting: two years and age 21 or one year and age 26 (latter for educational institutions only). For delayed vesting plan: one year and age 21. For plans with immediate vesting: two years and age 21 or one year and age 26 (latter for educational institutions only). For delayed vesting plan: one year and age 21. Not applicable. Not applicable.
Loans Permitted. Permitted. Permitted (subject to state approval of Endorsement - refer to State Approval list). Not permitted.
Feature 403(b) Retirement Plan Qualified Retirement
Plan (401(a), 403(a),
and 401(k))
457(b) Public Plan 457(b) Private Plan
Triggering Events Severance from service, age 59½, disability or death. Hardship may also be available. Severance from service, age 59½, disability or death. Hardship may also be available for 401(k) elective deferral. Severance from service, age 70½ or death. Unforeseeable emergency may also be available. Severance from service, age 70½ or death. Unforeseeable emergency may also be available.
Early Withdrawal Penalty Yes, 10% before age 59½, including any amounts rolled over from 457(b) public plans. Yes, 10% before age 59½, including any amounts rolled over from 457(b) public plans. Not applicable to amounts deferred under Section 457(b). 10% before age 59½ for amounts rolled over from 403(b) and qualified plans. Not applicable.
Rollovers Out Permitted to IRA, 401(a), 401(k), 457(b) public and other 403(b) plans that accept it. Not permitted to 457(b) private plans. Permitted to IRA, 403(b), 457(b) public and other 401(a) and 401(k) plans that accept it. Not permitted to 457(b) private plans. Permitted to IRA, 403(b), 401(a), 401(k) and other 457(b) public plans that accept it. Not permitted to 457(b) private plans. Rollovers to other plans not permitted by the IRC. Direct transfers to other 457(b) private plans may be permitted, if plan allows and receiving plan accepts it.
Rollovers In If new plan permits, from IRA, 401(a), 403(a), 401(k), 457(b) public and other 403(b) plans - subject to the rules of the new plan. Not permitted from 457(b) private plans. If new plan permits, from IRA, 403(b), 457(b) public and other 401(a), 403(a) and 401(k) plans - subject to the rules of the new plan. Not permitted from 457(b) private plans. If new plan permits, from IRA, 403(b), 401(a),403(a) and 401(k) plans. Direct transfers from other 457(b) public plans permitted, if plan allows. Not permitted from 457(b) private plan. Rollovers from other plans not permitted by the IRC. Direct transfers from other 457(b) private plans permitted, if plan allows.
Feature 403(b) Retirement Plan Qualified Retirement
Plan (401(a), 403(a),
and 401(k))
457(b) Public Plan 457(b) Private Plan
Distribution Options Lifetime Annuities, MDO, Retirement Transition Benefit (RTB), Interest Payment Retirement Option (IPRO), Systematic Cash Withdrawals, and Fixed-Period Annuities. Lifetime Annuities, MDO, Retirement Transition Benefit (RTB), Interest Payment Retirement Option (IPRO), Systematic Cash Withdrawals, and Fixed-Period Annuities. Lump Sums, Fixed-Period Annuities (5 - 30 years), Lifetime Annuities and MDO. Systematic Withdrawals are allowable, but not currently available from TIAA-CREF. Lump Sums, Fixed-Period Annuities (5 - 30 years), Lifetime Annuities, MDO. No cash option.
Minimum Distribution Requirements Applicable to post-1986 accumulation at age 70½ (age 75 for pre-1987 accumulations) or retirement, if later. Applicable to entire accumulation at age 70½ or retirement, if later. Applicable to entire accumulation at age 70½ or retirement, if later. Applicable to entire accumulation at age 70½ or retirement, if later.
Withholding Reporting 1099-R issued by T/C. 1099-R issued by T/C. 1099-R issued by T/C. W-2 issued by the institution. If Forms 2678 are filed for T/C to act as the withholding agent, we will issue the W-2.
Taxability Amounts are taxable when distributed. Amounts are taxable when distributed. Amounts are taxable when distributed. Amounts are taxable when paid or "made available," whichever comes first.
DB Plan Service Credit Purchase A tax-free transfer of plan assets to purchase service credits in a governmental DB plan will be permitted. Permitted. Permitted. Not applicable.
Feature 403(b) Retirement Plan Qualified Retirement
Plan (401(a), 403(a),
and 401(k))
457(b) Public Plan 457(b) Private Plan
IRS Form 5500 Filing (ERISA) (for private institutions only) Yes, but easy to complete. Yes. More complicated than 403(b). Not applicable. For private 457(b) plans, an exemption from the annual Form 5500 filing is granted to the extent a one-time filing is made to the Department of Labor ("Top-Hat" Statement).
Determination Letter Not available. Not required, but strongly recommended. Not available. Not available.
Non-discrimination Testing (for private institutions only) Yes. Yes. No. No.

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