What is a hardship loan? © Image by Pexels

What is a hardship loan?

Asked by: Woodrow Gerlach  |  Last update: August 31, 2022
Score: 4.6/5 (37 votes)

Hardship loans are a type of personal loan that, in many cases, have more favorable terms: These include faster funding, lower interest rates and deferred payments. They're especially useful for borrowers during trying times, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

What qualifies as a hardship loan?

A hardship distribution is a withdrawal from a participant's elective deferral account made because of an immediate and heavy financial need, and limited to the amount necessary to satisfy that financial need. The money is taxed to the participant and is not paid back to the borrower's account.

What proof do you need for a hardship withdrawal?

Financial information or documentation that substantiates the employee's immediate and heavy financial need. This may include insurance bills, escrow paperwork, funeral expenses, bank statements, etc.

Do hardship loans have to be paid back?

A hardship withdrawal isn't a loan and doesn't require you to pay back the amount you withdrew from your account. You'll pay income taxes when making a hardship withdrawal and potentially the 10% early withdrawal fee if you withdraw before age 59½.

How do you pay back a hardship loan?

A hardship withdrawal from a 401(k) retirement account can help you come up with much-needed funds in a pinch. Unlike a 401(k) loan, the funds to do not need to be repaid. But you must pay taxes on the amount of the withdrawal.

How to Apply for a Hardship Loan

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Can you be denied a hardship withdrawal?

This means that even if any employee has a qualifying hardship as defined by the IRS, if it doesn't meet their plan rules, then their hardship withdrawal request will be denied.

How many hardship withdrawals are allowed in a year?

You can receive no more than 2 hardship distributions during a Plan Year. Generally, you may only withdraw money within your 401(k) account that you invested as salary contributions. You have an immediate and heavy financial need even if it was reasonably foreseeable or voluntarily incurred.

Is credit card debt considered hardship withdrawal?

However, even if your 401k plan does allow for hardship withdrawals, credit card debt usually doesn't qualify as a reason to make the withdrawal under hardship rules. The IRS outlines specific reasons you can make a hardship withdrawal: Paying for certain medical expenses.

Can I get a hardship loan on my 401k?

If employees absolutely need to use their retirement savings before age 59½, 401(k) loans are ordinarily the first method to pursue. But if borrowing isn't an option—not every plan allows it—a hardship withdrawal may be a possibility for those who understand the implications.

How long does it take to get money from 401k hardship withdrawal?

When you request a hardship withdrawal, it can take 7 to 10 days on average to receive the money. Usually, your 401(k) money is tied up in mutual funds, and the custodian must sell your share percentage of securities held in these investments.

Do hardship withdrawals get audited?

Employees do, however, need to keep source documents, such as bills that resulted in the need for hardship withdrawals, in case employers are audited by the IRS, the agency said.

How can I withdraw money from my 401k without hardship?

Withdrawing from 401 (k) without penalty is possible. Usually, money can be distributed from your 401(k) if you die, retire, reach age 59 1/2, become disabled or in some other way no longer work for your employer. You can also cash out your account if you employer ends the plan without providing a replacement plan.

What reasons can you take a hardship withdrawal from your 401k?

Reasons for a 401(k) Hardship Withdrawal
  • Certain medical expenses.
  • Burial or funeral costs.
  • Costs related to purchasing a principal residence.
  • College tuition and education fees for the next 12 months.
  • Expenses required to avoid a foreclosure or eviction.
  • Home repair after a natural disaster.

How many times can I borrow from my 401k?

How often can I borrow from my 401(k)? Most employer 401(k) plans will only allow one loan at a time, and you must repay that loan before you can take out another one.

How do I write a financial hardship letter?

Tips for Writing a Hardship Letter
  1. Keep it original. ...
  2. Be honest. ...
  3. Keep it concise. ...
  4. Don't cast blame or shirk responsibility. ...
  5. Don't use jargon or fancy words. ...
  6. Keep your objectives in mind. ...
  7. Provide the creditor an action plan. ...
  8. Talk to a Financial Couch.

What counts as hardship for 401k?

Certain expenses are deemed to be immediate and heavy, including: (1) certain medical expenses; (2) costs relating to the purchase of a principal residence; (3) tuition and related educational fees and expenses; (4) payments necessary to prevent eviction from, or foreclosure on, a principal residence; (5) burial or ...

Is it better to withdraw from 401k or borrow?

401(k) withdrawals are usually worse than loans, but in the current climate, they're actually the better choice for most people. You have to start paying taxes on your distributions this year, but you can spread the tax liability out over three years, and you have the option to put back what you borrowed.

Can I use my 401k to pay off a car loan?

Many borrowers use money from their 401(k) to pay off credit cards, car loans and other high-interest consumer loans. On paper, this is a good decision. The 401(k) loan has no interest, while the consumer loan has a relatively high one. Paying them off with a lump sum saves interest and financing charges.

Can I take a 401k hardship withdrawal to pay off credit card debt?

For most people, withdrawing from a 401(k) plan or other retirement fund to pay off debt isn't the right choice. The cost of taxes, penalties, and lower retirement balance should have you looking at other ways to pay off your credit card debt.

Can I borrow from my 401k to buy a house?

Can You Use a 401(k) to Buy a House? The short answer is yes, since it is your money. While there are no restrictions against using the funds in your account for anything you want, withdrawing funds from a 401(k) before the age of 59 1/2 will incur a 10% early withdrawal penalty, as well as taxes.

Does my employer have to approve my 401k loan?

401k Plan Loans - An Overview. Allowing loans within a 401k plan is allowed by law, but an employer is not required to do so.

Can you borrow from your 401k twice?

If you have an existing 401(k) loan, you can take another 401(k) loan at any time based on the highest outstanding balance in the previous 12 months. However, if you have exhausted your 401(k) loan limit, you must wait until the lapse of the 12-month rolling period to take a second loan.

Can I take a hardship withdrawal to buy a car?

Qualifying circumstances might be the need to purchase a home, medical care expenses, funeral expenses, tuition or damages to the employee's principal residence. Requesting a 401(k) hardship withdrawal to buy a car will likely result in a denial, but you may be approved depending on your situation.

Can you go to jail for 401k withdrawal?

You can withdraw from your 401(k) without any penalty, but if you roll it into an individual retirement account, you'd have to wait until 59½ to have your money without consequences.

Do you lose your 401k if you get fired?

If you are fired, you lose your right to any remaining unvested funds (employer contributions) in your 401(k). You are always completely vested in your contributions and can not lose this portion of your 401(k).