Plan for the future when leaving your job
So, you’ve decided to leave your job. You’re excited for a new opportunity, but what does the change in employment mean for health insurance, retirement savings, perks, and other benefits?
If you haven’t already, make a monthly budget that’s adapted to your change in income. This is especially important if you will be out of work for a while or will be making less than you make now. If you need to live off savings for a while, you’ll probably need to adapt your spending habits.
If your employer offers health insurance, chances are you’ll lose it when you leave your job. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows former employees to obtain continued health insurance coverage at group rates. While COBRA coverage typically costs less than an individual health insurance plan, it usually costs more than what you were previously paying through your employer. Not everyone qualifies for COBRA, and in the case that you lose your insurance and do not qualify, you can go to healthinsuranceusa.org to find a health plan that works for you. Depending on household income and potential subsidies, coverage through the Affordable Care Act might be cheaper than COBRA. Whenever there is a gap in coverage, you should research potential plans and compare costs with plan design, network providers, etc.
If your employer provided a 401(k), your options most likely will depend upon your account’s ending balance. If the total in your 401(k) is less than $1,000, your former employer may issue you a check. If the total in your 401(k) is between $1,000 and $5,000 ($7,000 beginning in 2024), you’ll likely need to roll over the money into an IRA or into your new employer’s plan. If you have more than $5,000 ($7,000 beginning in 2024) in the account, you can leave your money where it is. Note that any cash distribution may result in a taxable event and/or early withdrawal penalty.
Though leaving a job is challenging, and carries lots of financial and personal impact, remember to keep it positive, polite, and professional. Even if you hated your job, it doesn’t do any good to say so. Your professionalism in the last few weeks or days of your job will be remembered as future references call for information about you. And don’t rule out the possibility that you might choose to return to your original employer. In that case, you’ll be glad that you maintained a positive attitude in your final days.
Levi Crouse is human resources manager for F&M Trust.
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