There is no quick, general answer. There are four factors that affect the timing of your distribution:
- The plan itself may provide a time frame which should be documented in your plan documentation or summary plan description. In some rare cases, distributions are not made until the participant has reached retirement age, usually defined as age 65, even if the participant terminated employment much earlier.
- Your distribution cannot be processed until after the next valuation date when the plan determines the account balances of participants. Companies can determine account balances daily, monthly, quarterly, semiannually or even annually.
- How your money is invested can affect how long it will take for you to get your distribution. While most investments can be liquidated quickly, a few, such as some real estate investments, may take longer.
- Processing your paperwork after the valuation date can take a few days or a few weeks depending on how your plan is managed.
It is important for you to know that your company wants you to have your money just as soon as you do. The company is responsible for and must pay fees on your account balance for as long as your money remains in the plan.