Retrieving Incorrect Distributions from a Former Employer's 403(b) Plan

February 7, 2023
for People

Retirement savings are a crucial aspect of financial planning, and it's important to ensure that your hard-earned money is properly managed and protected. One of the popular vehicles for retirement savings is a 403(b) plan, which is a tax-advantaged savings plan offered to employees of public schools and certain non-profit organizations.

However, there may be instances where an incorrect distribution is made from your former employer's 403(b) plan, leading to a loss of your savings. In such cases, it is important to take the necessary steps to retrieve your funds and secure your retirement future.

Understanding the 403(b) Plan

A 403(b) plan is a type of tax-deferred retirement savings plan that is available to employees of public schools and tax-exempt organizations. Participants in the plan can make contributions on a pre-tax basis, and the contributions grow tax-free until they are withdrawn.

There are two types of 403(b) plans - annuity contracts and custodial accounts. Annuity contracts are provided by insurance companies, while custodial accounts are investment accounts held by a bank or other financial institution.

Incorrect Distributions from a 403(b) Plan

An incorrect distribution from a 403(b) plan can occur due to a variety of reasons, including administrative errors, miscommunication between the employer and the plan administrator, or a mistake made by the plan participant.

Regardless of the reason, it is important to take action to retrieve the funds as soon as possible. Here are some steps you can take to retrieve the incorrect distribution:

  1. Contact the plan administrator - The first step is to contact the plan administrator and inform them of the incorrect distribution. They will be able to assist you in determining the cause of the error and taking the necessary steps to retrieve the funds.
  2. Review plan documents - Review the plan documents and any relevant contracts to determine if there are any provisions or procedures for correcting incorrect distributions.
  3. Submit a written request - Submit a written request to the plan administrator, requesting that the incorrect distribution be reversed and your funds be returned to the plan. Be sure to provide any relevant documentation and information to support your request.
  4. Seek legal assistance - If the plan administrator is unable to assist you or if your request is denied, you may need to seek legal assistance. An attorney who specializes in ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) laws can help you understand your rights and take the necessary steps to retrieve your funds.

Protecting Your Retirement Savings

To avoid incorrect distributions and protect your retirement savings, it is important to regularly monitor your 403(b) plan account and review your account statements carefully. In case of any errors or discrepancies, take action immediately to resolve the issue.

Additionally, it is a good idea to diversify your retirement savings by investing in multiple vehicles, such as a 401(k) plan, an IRA, or a mutual fund. This will help reduce your risk and ensure that your retirement savings are protected.


Incorrect distributions from a former employer's 403(b) plan can be a major setback for your retirement savings. However, by taking the necessary steps to retrieve the funds and protect your retirement future, you can ensure that your hard-earned money is secure and growing. Don't hesitate to seek the help of a professional, such as an attorney, if you are unable to resolve the issue on your own.