What Happens to Deferred Compensation If I Quit?

When you decide to walk away from your job, have you ever wondered what happens to your deferred compensation?

It’s like a puzzle waiting to be solved. Understanding the implications of leaving and the impact on your hard-earned savings is crucial.

Let’s shed light on the fate of your deferred compensation and the choices you might face in this financial maze.

Vesting of Deferred Compensation

When you quit, the vesting of your deferred compensation will determine what portion you get to keep. Vesting refers to the amount of time you must work for your employer before you have full ownership of the deferred compensation.

If you leave before you’re fully vested, you may only be entitled to a percentage of the total amount. Some companies offer graded vesting, where you become entitled to a higher percentage of the deferred compensation the longer you stay with the company.

It’s crucial to understand your company’s vesting schedule to know how much of your deferred compensation you’ll receive if you decide to leave your job.

Distribution Options Available

Curious about how you can receive your deferred compensation after quitting your job? Upon leaving your position, you typically have several distribution options for your deferred funds.

One common choice is to take a lump-sum payment, receiving the entire amount at once. This option provides immediate access to the funds, but keep in mind that it may come with tax implications.

Another option is to set up periodic payments over a specified period, which can help with managing taxes and budgeting.

You might also have the choice to roll over the funds into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or another employer’s retirement plan. Each option has its considerations, so be sure to weigh them carefully before making a decision.

Tax Implications to Consider

After considering your distribution options for your deferred compensation upon quitting your job, you must now assess the tax implications to make an informed decision. When you receive deferred compensation, it’s generally taxed as ordinary income. This means that the amount you receive will be subject to federal income tax, as well as any applicable state income tax. Depending on the amount of compensation and your tax bracket, this could result in a significant tax liability.

Additionally, if you receive a lump-sum payment, it may push you into a higher tax bracket for that year, potentially increasing the amount of tax you owe. It’s crucial to understand these tax implications before deciding on the best course of action for your deferred compensation.

Impact on Retirement Savings

Considering the impact on your retirement savings, quitting a job can have significant implications for your long-term financial security. When you leave a job, especially if you’d a company-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k) or pension, you may lose out on future contributions from your employer.

Additionally, if you’d been contributing to a retirement account through a salary deferral arrangement, such as a 403(b) or deferred compensation plan, your contributions may cease once you leave the job. This interruption in saving could affect the growth of your retirement nest egg over time.

It’s essential to carefully consider the impact on your retirement savings before making the decision to quit your job to ensure you’re adequately prepared for the future.

Potential Penalties for Early Withdrawal

Leaving your job could result in potential penalties for early withdrawal if you tap into your retirement savings prematurely. When you withdraw funds from your deferred compensation plan before reaching the qualifying age, typically 59 ½, you may face early withdrawal penalties. These penalties are in addition to any regular income tax due on the withdrawal amount.

The early withdrawal penalty is usually around 10% of the distribution but can vary based on specific plan rules and circumstances. It’s important to understand the implications of early withdrawal before making any decisions. Consider exploring other options such as rolling over your funds into another retirement account to avoid these penalties and ensure your financial security in the long run.


If you quit your job, what happens to your deferred compensation depends on the vesting schedule and distribution options. Consider the tax implications and impact on your retirement savings before making any decisions.

Early withdrawal may result in penalties, so weigh your options carefully. It’s important to understand the implications of quitting on your deferred compensation to make informed choices for your financial future.

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