401(k) Loans

Who approves a 401k loan?

When applying for a 401(k) loan, you could be wondering who between your employer and the plan administrator approves the 401(k) loan. Find out who approves 401(k) loans.

3 min read

If you need money in the short-term –and there are no alternative sources of funds, you can consider taking a 401(k) against your retirement savings. A 401(k) loan provides a quick way to get money without having to contact mainstream lenders like banks and credit unions. When applying for a 401(k) loan, you may be required to mail your application or fill an online loan application.

The 401(k) plan administrator is responsible for approving 401(k) loans. Once you send your loan application, the plan administrator must review the application to determine if you qualify to borrow against your retirement savings. The plan administrator must ensure the loan meets IRS guidelines and the company’s loan policy spelled out in the plan documents.

Who is the Plan Administrator?

A plan administrator is an individual or entity that manages the day-to-day operations of a 401(k) plan. The plan administrator is responsible for ensuring that retirement savings are collected and distributed properly and that the plan follows the rules provided by the IRS. Due to the demanding functions that plan administrators are required to perform, most companies outsource this function to third-party administrators (PTA).

The federal law requires the plan administrator to work as a fiduciary, which involves handling funds and other assets on behalf of the employer. The plan administrator manages retirement contributions, distributions, and 401(k) loans. As a fiduciary, the plan administrator must act in the interests of the 401(k) plan participants and not the employer who hired them.

401(k) Plan Sponsor vs. Plan Administrator:

A 401(k) sponsor is the entity that establishes the retirement plan for the company. Generally, the plan sponsor is the employer itself or a union of employees, and they often delegate the responsibility of managing retirement assets to professional investment companies. The investment company must have the required knowledge and skills to manage the retirement assets on behalf of the company.

On the other hand, a plan administrator is responsible for managing the operations of a 401(k) plan. The ERISA act requires the employer to hire a plan administrator, and it can select an officer or employee of the company or a third-party entity. The plan administrator can then outsource certain tasks to service providers such as a financial advisor and an auditor. A financial advisor can be brought in to provide investment consultation, while an auditor can be hired to conduct a financial investigation and provide assurance that the plan's financial statements are in good standing.

How much can you borrow from your 401(k)?

The IRS allows 401(k) participants to borrow the greater of $10, 000 or 50% of the account balance, up to a maximum of $50,000. You can only borrow from your current 401(k) plan, and your employer will set up automatic payroll deductions to pay off the loan. However, you cannot borrow from old 401(k)s left with former employers.

For example, if your vested 401(k) balance is $60,000, you can only borrow up to a maximum of $30,000. If you want to increase the loan limit, you can rollover your old 401(k)s to your employer’s 401(k) plan. Bringing the 401(k) balance to $100,000 or more allows you to borrow up to the maximum loan limit of $50,000.

How long do you have to repay a 401(k) loan?

Generally, when you take a 401(k) loan, you may be allowed up to five years to pay the loan. The IRS requires that 401(k) loans must be paid in at least quarterly payments until the loan is fully paid. You can decide to pay the loan bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly, depending on your pay period.

However, you can get a 401(k) loan with a longer repayment period in certain situations. For example, if you are buying your principal residence, you can take a 401(k) loan with a repayment period that exceeds 5 years. The specific repayment period will depend on the amount of money borrowed, the purpose, and how much you can afford in loan payments.

If you leave your job with an unpaid loan, you could be required to pay off the loan sooner than the agreed repayment period. In most cases, you must pay the outstanding loan balance when you file taxes for the current year. Otherwise, the unpaid loan may be considered a deemed distribution, and you will owe taxes and a potential penalty on the amount borrowed.

Should you borrow from your 401(k)?

If you need money for an emergency, you can get a 401(k) loan from Beagle. We unlock your old 401(k) so that you can take a loan from it. You pay a lower interest rate than a bank loan, and it may make sense to borrow from your 401(k) to pay off high-interest debt. Since you are borrowing from yourself, any interest on the loan goes back to your account. Also, unlike an early 401(k) withdrawal, you won’t pay a penalty when you return the retirement money to the 401(k) account to continue growing tax-deferred.