Search our FAQ library or browse by topic.

Frequently asked questions

All FAQs about Required Minimum Distributions (RMD)

Generally, federal tax rules require that you begin to withdraw money annually from your tax-deferred retirement accounts, such as employer-sponsored retirement plans or traditional IRAs, when you turn 72. You should discuss with your tax advisor how an RMD fits into your overall retirement income plan. TIAA offers you a wide range of flexible income options for you to consider.

A required minimum distribution (RMD) is the minimum amount you must withdraw from your retirement account(s) to satisfy federal tax rules. Generally, you are required to start taking withdrawals from certain tax-deferred retirement accounts (including traditional IRAs) when you reach age 72.

The amount is based on your account balance at the end of the previous year and, generally, the life expectancy factor provided by the IRS in the Uniform Lifetime Table. Your RMD will change every year based on those two numbers. Please note: If you're participating in a 403(b) retirement plan, any contributions and earnings credited before 1987 are not subject to RMDs until the year you turn age 75. Keep in mind that any withdrawals you take before you are subject to the minimum distribution requirements, or withdrawals for more than the required amounts, will reduce your pre-1987 balance first.

You can call TIAA at 800-842-2252 for more information about the amount you need to take this year.

You generally have to take a distribution each year from employer-sponsored plans, including 401(k), 403(b), 457(b) and other defined contribution plans, when you turn 72 or retire, whichever is later (plan permitting). If you turned age 70½ before January 1, 2020, then your RMD age is 70½, not 72. If you turn age 72 or retire (and you're already age 72 or over, or were age 70½ or older on December 31, 2019) in the first year for which you are required to take RMD, you have two choices: You can take your first withdrawal (the amount required for the first year) in that year (e.g., 2022); or, you can wait and take it in the next year (2023), as long as it is paid by April 1. However, if you wait until the next year to take your first withdrawal, you'll have to take two withdrawals in that year—one for the amount required in the first year (2022) and one for the next year (2023)—which may increase your tax liability.

If you turned age 72 or retired during a previous year, you need to take your minimum distribution by December 31st of each year. 

You're required to start taking an annual distributions from traditional IRAs no later than April 1 of the year following the year you turn 72, regardless of employment status (e.g., if you turn age 72 in 2022, you must begin taking distributions by April 1, 2023). 

Minimum distribution rules don't apply to ROTH IRAs during the owner's lifetime, though they may apply to the beneficiary that inherits the ROTH IRA. Note: this exception to taking lifetime RMDs does not apply to Roth-source amounts in a retirement plan. Designated Roth accounts are subject to RMD in the same manner as accounts funded by before-tax contributions.

Generally, yes. Beneficiaries may be required to take an annual RMD. However, the RMD rules for beneficiaries have recently been substantially changed to require most non-spousal beneficiaries to receive the balance of their inherited accounts by the end of the tenth year following the account holder’s death. If the Participant died after being required to take RMD ("after the required beginning date"), then annual RMDs would be required during the ten year distribution period. Beneficiaries should consult a tax professional to determine if and when RMDs are required. You can call TIAA at 800-842-2252 for more information.

You can review your required minimum distributions by logging in to your account from the My Account tab. If your plan allows it, you can withdraw money online. If an online withdrawal is not an option, call us at 800-842-2252. Please be sure to contact us two to three months before you must receive your withdrawal to ensure you receive funds by the required deadline.

If you don't take the amount required, the IRS could assess an excise tax on the amount not withdrawn.

If you are concerned that you may have missed an RMD, please contact your tax advisor.

For your current employer's plan: If the plan allows, you may be permitted to delay taking RMD from your current employer's plan until April 1 after the year you retire.

For other tax-deferred retirement accounts and IRAs (other than Roth): You're required to withdraw a certain amount each year regardless of your employment status. It can get complicated, so we suggest discussing the specifics of your situation with your tax advisor. We can help answer any questions about TIAA retirement accounts from prior employers by calling 800-842-2252.

Any withdrawal paid to you will count toward the RMD for the tax-deferred retirement account. In certain situations, you may elect to take your full RMD amount from one or more traditional IRAs instead of separately from each of your traditional IRAs. This is called aggregation, and the IRS also permits it for 403(b) plans. For a 403(b) retirement plan, the RMD is calculated separately but may be withdrawn from any of your 403(b) plan accounts. The same rule applies to your traditional IRAs. Money withdrawn from a traditional IRA will not count toward your 403(b) plan RMD and vice versa. Money withdrawn from other types of retirement accounts will only count toward the RMD for that tax-deferred retirement account, and no amounts withdrawn from elsewhere will count toward that plan's RMD. If you are not sure whether the withdrawal you received is enough to cover your RMD requirement, call us at 800-842-2252.

A rollover or transfer increases the balance in the accumulation annuity to which it is applied and may result in a larger calculated RMD for that contract when you reach RMD age. However, a rollover or transfer between plans from your TPA contract or fixed period annuity is not allowed on or after January 1 of the year in which you turn age 72. After that date, except for internal transfers within the same plan (which reduce the balance in one investment and increase the balance in another one, leaving the overall plan investment unchanged), TPA and fixed period annuity payments must be taken in cash. However, only in the calendar year in which payments begin, TPA or fixed period annuity payments apply toward your calculated RMD for the accumulation contract (or any other RMD that may be satisfied using the aggregation rule). In later years, TPA payments, like other fixed annuity payments, satisfy the RMD for the amount settled into that contract. The RMD exactly equals the payment amounts. Nothing is left over that can be treated as an RMD under another plan or contract under the aggregation rule.

If you have any questions or want to learn about other ways to satisfy the IRS required minimum distribution rules from your TPA, please call us at 800-842-2252. We're here on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (ET).

You generally have three options for your RMD withdrawal:

  1. You can receive the money in your bank account electronically. (Preferred)
  2. We can mail a check to your address.
  3. You can withdraw the money and put it toward after-tax accounts. After-tax accounts include brokerage accounts, mutual fund accounts, after-tax annuities and college savings funds.

When evaluating your required minimum distribution strategy, you may want to consider lifetime income options that provide you with guaranteed income that cannot be outlived. Keep in mind if you have been a long-term contributor to TIAA Traditional, you may receive additional amounts of income by creating a stream of guaranteed income.

In some cases, creating a guaranteed income stream may provide higher amounts of income in retirement while satisfying your required minimum distribution requirements. Our retirement specialists are available to discuss our range of flexible income options and choices. For additional information, please call us at 800-842-2252, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (ET). Any guarantees under annuities issued by TIAA are subject to TIAA's claims-paying ability.

Please note that full or partial annuitization will NOT reduce the calculated amount of your required minimum distribution (which is determined as of the prior December 31 and cannot be changed) for the year of annuitization. Annuity payments made in that first year will count toward satisfying the calculated RMD amount. Amounts applied to produce annuity income will no longer be part of the contract accumulation and will not factor into the RMD calculation for subsequent years. Instead, amounts applied to annuity income are "walled off" in their own RMD bucket. Annuity payments received in years after the year of annuitization will exactly satisfy the RMD with respect to the payout annuity. Such payments will not count toward satisfying the calculated RMD for any plan or contract.

This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute fiduciary investment advice under ERISA, a securities recommendation under all securities laws, tax advice, or an insurance product recommendation under state insurance laws or regulations. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor's own objectives and circumstances.

Online help

Calling us

Weekdays, 8 a.m. − 10 p.m. (ET)