Each 401(k) plan is different. They can permit loans or hardship withdrawals, but they do NOT have to. You should be able to find a document called a Summary Plan Description on your 401(k) website. This will tell you what the plan permits and under what circumstances.
If a plan permits hardship withdrawals, most (but not all) only allow it for 6 "safe harbor reasons" This is from the IRS website:
IRS rules provide "safe harbors" for determining if a hardship distribution is on account of an "immediate and heavy financial need":
Expenses for medical care previously incurred by the employee, the employee's spouse, dependents or beneficiary or is now necessary for these persons to obtain medical care;
Costs directly related to the purchase of an employee's principal residence (excluding mortgage payments);
Tuition, related educational fees and room and board expenses for the next 12 months of postsecondary education for the employee, or the employee's spouse, children, dependents or beneficiary of the employee;
Payments necessary to prevent the eviction of the employee from the employee's principal residence or mortgage foreclosure;
Funeral expenses for the employee, the employee's spouse, children, dependents, or beneficiary of the employee; or
Certain damage repair expenses for the employee's principal residence.
Under IRS rules, distribution is deemed necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need of an employee if all of the following requirements are satisfied:
The distribution is not greater than the amount of the employee's immediate and heavy financial need (this may include any amounts necessary to pay any federal, state or local income taxes or penalties reasonably anticipated to result from the distribution).
The employee has obtained all distributions, other than hardship distributions, and all nontaxable (at the time of the loan) loans currently available under all of an employer's plans.
The terms of the plan prohibit the employee from making elective contributions and employee contributions to the plan and all other plans maintained by the employer for at least six months after the hardship distribution.
Employees who take a hardship distribution cannot repay it back to the plan and in most cases are not permitted to contribute to the plan for six months after the withdrawal.
Hardship withdrawals are subject to income taxes and a 10% additional tax on early distributions.
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Plans vary and there are limits on what you can draw from your 401k for.
You can borrow from it,but you have to pay the loan back within 5 years or you will have to pay penalties and taxes on the distribution.
You can take money out for medical bills,purchase a home and a few other things without having to pay any penalties or taxes.
Most 401k plans allow you to borrow against it. Did you actually talk to your HR department?
They are correct. Have you actually READ the 401(k) plan provisions that you were provided? Unless your employer's specific plan allows a "hardship withdrawal", you can't access it.
You don't That is for retirement.
I work at walmart and have the same 401k plan. You can take out a hardship withdraw, which has to be approved through merril lynch, but you can only take out what you' ve personally paid in, you cant touch profit sharing or employer contributions. I did this last year and regret it. The process is time consuming and takes about ten days to get your money. They also take 10% for their fee, and another 10-20 for your taxes, and you get hit again on your tax return. You must first sell any company stock you earn through computershare. You also are barred from contributing to your 401k and stock purchases for six months.
Instead of trying to get money out of your 401. Talk to your personal manager and ask for a associate assistance fund. Associates every payday contribute money to help other associates in need.