Basic Retirement - Payment Options

The normal retirement age is 65; however, you can receive a distribution at any age following termination of employment with the RF.


TIAA will provide you with assistance in selecting distribution option(s) in settlement of annuity contracts and mutual funds accounts. Payment options are highlighted below.  For a more complete description of payment options, refer to "How Benefits Are Paid" under Basic Retirement in the Retirement Section of the Benefits Handbook. Or, call TIAA-CREF at 1-800-842-2252 or visit  Contact TIAA for the necessary forms to select an income option.


Type of withdrawal allowed When you can make the withdrawal
Rollover: A transfer of funds into another eligible plan. A qualified rollover will not be taxed regardless of your age, unless you fail to complete the transaction within the required timeframe. Must no longer be employed by the Research Foundation.
Benefits Payment from Mutual Funds: A withdrawal or periodic payout of balances in mutual funds. These balances may also be converted to an annuity. Must no longer be employed by the Research Foundation.
Cash withdrawal: A surrender of vested TIAA contracts for their cash value (subject to IRS regulations). A withdrawal is permitted if your TIAA Traditional Annuity accumulation is less than $2,000 and your total TIAA retirement annuity accumulation from employer-paid premiums is not over $4,000 and annuity payments have not begun, including a TIAA Transfer Payout Annuity. Must no longer be employed by the Research Foundation.
Annuities and Other Payment Options: Your annuity payment options are described in the Benefits Handbook.  Options are limited for married participants subject to spousal consent. Must no longer be employed by the Research Foundation.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO): A court order that instructs how a divorced spouse or child or other dependent is to be paid all or a portion of a retirement plan benefit. At any time with the proper documents.



Tax implications

Cash distributions are subject to ordinary income taxes and may be subject to an additional early withdrawal tax penalty. TIAA must withhold 20 percent from any benefit paid to you over a period of fewer than 10 years (including lump sums) and send it to the IRS, unless you instruct TIAA to make a direct rollover to another qualified plan or an individual retirement annuity/account.  The IRS will apply the amount toward income taxes due.


If you receive a distribution from the plan before you reach age 59-1/2 and you do not roll over the distribution, the taxable portion of your distribution is subject to a 10 percent penalty tax unless you have medical expenses exceeding the tax-deductible limit or you become disabled, die, or end employment after age 55 and request periodic payments over a period of at least 10 years.  There is no tax penalty applied to payment made to children or to a divorced spouse in accordance with a qualified domestic relations order.


The information provided by TIAA is not intended to be solely relied upon for tax advice. You are encouraged to consult a tax advisor.



Minimum Distribution Requirements

Federal tax law requires that the plan commence retirement income distributions by April 1 of the calendar year following the later of:

  • The calendar year in which you reach age 70-1/2 or
  • The calendar year in which you terminate RF employment


Failure to do so will result in tax penalties. Therefore, if you do not voluntarily take the required minimum distribution, the RF will instruct TIAA to make the distribution to you in order to avoid these penalties.  This is regardless of distributions you may be taking from other retirement plans you have.  TIAA can assist you in determining your minimum required distribution amount. For more information, refer to "When Distribution Must Begin" under Basic Retirement in the Retirement section of your Benefits Handbook.


Contact your campus benefits office for more information.

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