Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to your most common questions

  • Withdrawals

    • What is the processing time for a withdrawal, rollover, or loan?

      The processing time for a withdrawal, rollover or loan is at least 14 business days, assuming that all required paperwork is received on time and in good order.

    • What is a Qualified Hardship Withdrawal?

      Before a participant qualifies for a hardship withdrawal, the participant must take a withdrawal of any After-Tax or Rollover accounts they may have with the Fund. The participant must also use the loan available through the Savings Plan. By taking a hardship withdrawal, a participant does not avoid paying taxes on the withdrawal.

      The Fund requires proof of hardship. The law defines a financial hardship as:

      • Medical expenses incurred or expected to incur, or to obtain medical care not covered by health insurance for themselves or for their dependents.
      • Costs directly related to the purchase of a primary residence (excluding mortgage payments),
      • Tuition payments for the next 12 months of college or post-secondary school for themselves or for their dependents.
      • Payments to prevent eviction from or foreclosure upon their primary residence.
      • Payments for burial or funeral expenses for their deceased spouse, parent, child or dependent.
      • Expenses for the repair of damage to their primary residence that qualify for a casualty deduction under IRC Section 165.
    • Where can I learn the status of my withdrawal?

      To obtain the status of your withdrawal request, please contact the Customer Service Department via Live Chat or call us directly at 800-RET-YMCA (800-738-9622), Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm ET.

    • What is Spousal Consent and why do I need it?

      Spousal Consent is written acknowledgement and approval provided by the spouse of the married (retirement) account owner authorizing their spouse, the YMCA employee and YMCA Retirement Fund account holder, to take certain actions with his/her retirement account such as: naming someone other than, or in addition to, his/her spouse as the 100% primary beneficiary or to take a withdrawal of all or a portion of their retirement account.

      With each transaction, a consent form is completed by the spouse of the married YMCA Retirement Fund account holder if all or a portion of benefits that would have normally been earmark as a survivor benefit but are not included in the remaining balance are to be paid in the form of a qualified Joint & Survivor annuity benefit.

    • I just left the YMCA; when can I have access to my money?

      Accessing the money in your YMCA Retirement Plan account(s) is based on a combination of your age when you leave the YMCA, and your account balance(s).  Read the withdrawal/rollover requirements for more information.

      If you no longer work for the YMCA and you are eligible to withdraw your account balance(s) at the Fund, you can make your distribution request online. It’s easy, fast, and secure. In order to request a distribution online, you will need to log in to your account. If you do not have an online account, you can create one here.

    • What are required minimum distributions (RMD) and when do they take effect?

      In accordance with IRS rules, you must begin receiving a required minimum distribution (RMD) of your benefits no later than April 1 of the year following the calendar year in which you reach age 72 (age 73 if you were born in 1951 or later) or terminate YMCA Employment, whichever is later. Learn more in the Summary Plan Description booklet.

    • I am in the process of purchasing a home; can I withdraw from my account(s) to help pay for closing costs or the down payment?

      You can borrow from your accounts in the Savings Plan—the 403(b) Smart Account and the Rollover Account. The maximum amount you may borrow is 50% of your total account balances in the Savings Plan or $50,000, whichever is less. The minimum amount you can borrow is $1,000.

      Only one loan can be taken at a time. Once a loan is paid off, you can take a new loan. For a full list of rules, see Loans.

  • Login Assistance

    • What software do I need to access the YMCA Retirement Fund website?

      Supported Browsers

      Microsoft® Edge

      Download Microsoft Edge

      Mozilla Firefox

      Download Mozilla Firefox

      Google® Chrome

      Download Google Chrome

      Safari – Apple

      Download Safari – Apple

      Supported Mobile Devices

      iPhone/iPad – Apple iOS 10 or higher

      Android 8 or higher

      PDF Viewer

      A PDF viewer is needed to view/print/download most forms on this site. If you do not have a PDF viewer, you can download a free copy of Adobe Reader – Download Adobe Reader

    • When am I eligible to log in to my account?

      • You can log in to your account if you are enrolled in either Retirement Plan and/or the Savings Plan and have a balance in an account at the YMCA Retirement Fund (regardless of your employment status).
      • For assistance with online account issues, please view our video: How to Create an Online Account.
    • How do I create an online account?

      • You can create an online account here.
      • Note the following while choosing a username and password:

      Creating a username:

      • Step 1 – Enter your Social Security Number (no spaces or hyphens; only digits).
      • Step 2 – Enter your Fund ID
      • Step 3 – Create a username to personalize your login.
        6-15 characters in length; numbers and letters with NO SPACES.
      • Step 4 – Create a password.
        8-12 characters in length; must include one capital letter and one number.
      • Step 5 – Create login reminder question and answer.
        The login reminder question allows you to gain access to your account if you forget your username and/or password. Choose one question from the drop down menu.
      • Step 6 – Enter your date of birth. (MM/DD/YYYY format)
      • Step 7 – Enter your email address.
      • Final Step – Check the Registration button and log in to your online account.

      Please Note:  For your protection this information should not be shared with anyone, and should be changed frequently for your security.

    • I forgot my password; how do I reset it?

      Click here to reset your password.

    • I forgot my username; how do I reset it?

      Click here to reset your username.

    • How do I change my username and/or password?

      • Log in to your account, and click on the Change Your Log In Information link on the Features menu.
      • Update the Change Your Log In Information form to change your username, password, security question and answer.
    • I cannot remember my security answer; how do I retrieve it?

      To change your Security Answer, log in to your account and from the right-hand menu, choose Change Your Log In Information.

    • I received a notice that I have no security answer setup on my account; how can I set one up?

      To change/update your Security Answer, log in to your account and from the right-hand menu, choose Change Your Log In Information.

    • I did not receive the temporary password in my email; how can I access my online account?

      If you have not received the temporary password, please contact the Customer Service Department via Live Chat or call us directly at 800-RET-YMCA (800-738-9622), Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm ET.

    • I tried the temporary password and it is not working; how can I access my online account?

      If you have tried the temporary password and it is not working, please contact the Customer Service Department via Live Chat or call us directly at 800-RET-YMCA (800-738-9622), Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm ET.

  • Plan Participants FAQ

    • What is a church pension plan?

      A church pension plan is a plan that serves the employees of an organization that is either a church or is associated with (and shares common religious bonds with) churches or associations of churches.

      On December 21, 2004, President George W. Bush signed a bill into law which clarified that plans of the YMCA Retirement Fund are church plans.

    • How is the YMCA Retirement Fund different from other retirement plans?

      As an administrator of church plans, the Fund can offer retirement income accounts, commingle assets for investment purposes and provide annuities without paying an insurance company.

      In addition, the Retirement Plan and the Savings Plan have a unique plan design. Unlike a typical 401(k) retirement account, retirement savings at the YMCA Retirement Fund are protected during stormy economic times as a result of this unique structure of the plans. Not once in the Fund’s 100-year history have account balances ever gone down.

    • Is the money in the Fund insured by the federal government?

      The YMCA Retirement Fund’s plans, like defined contribution plans, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, etc., are not insured by the government.

    • Is money saved in the Fund safe?

      Yes. The safety of the Fund is in its highly diversified portfolio, managed by professionals and a dedicated Board of Trustees. Not once in the history of the Fund have account balances ever gone down nor have annuity payments ever been missed. The Fund’s plans are designed in a way that minimizes the risk of investment loss to the participant.

    • Who reviews the Fund's operation?

      The Fund’s financial statements are audited annually by an independent CPA firm. The Fund reports to the New York State Department of Financial Services, viewed by many as the toughest state insurance department in the country. The Fund also reports to the IRS and the Department of Labor.

    • What are the benefits of the Fund?

      The Fund’s benefits are:

      • Opportunities for tax-deferred savings for retirement.
      • Retirement income for participants and their beneficiaries (see annuity).
      • Income for participants who are permanently and totally disabled.
      • Death benefits for beneficiaries of active and retired participants.
    • What is the total and permanent disability benefit and how does one qualify for it?

      The Fund offers retirement benefits to Y employees who become permanently and totally disabled. That means if an individual is incapable of working for a living, and their condition is not expected to improve, they may be eligible to receive an annuity from the Fund. To qualify for this benefit, the employee must:

      • be under age 60
      • have had at least five full years of participation in the Retirement Plan
      • have become disabled while working for a participating Y
      • have not taken a withdrawal from their YMCA Account and Personal Account (for Ys that require employee contributions) since leaving a Y
      • apply for benefits within six months after terminating Y employment

      As the Fund’s total & permanent disability claims administrator, Lincoln Life Assurance Company of Boston reviews all applications and renders a decision on claims.

    • Why is it important to designate a beneficiary?

      Designating a beneficiary informs the Fund how to pay out death benefits. It is important that all Fund participants keep their beneficiary designations up-to-date so that their benefits are paid according to their wishes. If at any time there is a major change in a participant’s life, such as marriage, birth of a child, widowhood, or a divorce, they should review their beneficiary designation and make any necessary changes.

      To designate or update beneficiaries, a participant can either log in to their account and make the change online, or submit a Designation of Beneficiary form to the Fund.

      For any participant who dies before retirement on or after October 15, 2017 without designating a beneficiary, the pre-retirement benefit will be payable to the following, in order:

      • the participant’s surviving spouse of at least one year, and if none, then to
      • the participant’s living children in equal shares, and if none survive the participant, then to
      • the participant’s estate

      If anyone who is not an eligible spouse or a child of the participant wishes to collect the benefit, he or she will have to be the executor/administrator of the participant’s estate or, if eligible, use the small estate procedure of the decedent’s state.

    • How does a participant change their beneficiary?

      Participants can change their beneficiary at any time. Those who have not yet started their annuity can designate and update their beneficiaries online.

      They may also designate their beneficiaries by submitting the proper form to the Fund. The form they use depends on whether or not they still work for the Y. The Designation of Beneficiary for current Y Employees must be either notarized or signed by HR. The Designation of Beneficiary for former Y Employees must be notarized.

      For participants who have already started their annuity, the Designation of Beneficiary for the Retired Death Benefit must be notarized and mailed in. (Contact the Fund if an annuity has been started under the Principal Guarantee Annuity Option.)

      NOTE: Federal law imposes strict rules for married employees designating beneficiaries other than their spouses. The employee must have notarized consent from their spouse if the spouse is not the only beneficiary.

    • What happens if a participant dies while still working for a Y?

      If the participant was enrolled in the Retirement Plan prior to January 1, 2019, their beneficiary will receive the greater of $10,000 or the sum of the amounts in their Personal Account, YMCA Account (Legacy) and YMCA Account. Any voluntary accounts they have will be paid to their beneficiary as well. All benefits will be paid as either a withdrawal or an annuity.

      If the participant was enrolled in the Retirement Plan on or after January 1, 2019, their beneficiary will receive the sum of the amounts in their Personal Account, YMCA Account (Legacy), and YMCA Account. Any voluntary accounts they have will be paid to their beneficiary as well. All benefits will be paid as either a withdrawal or an annuity.

    • Who can be named as a beneficiary?

      Anyone or any entity can be named as a beneficiary. Generally, all people named as beneficiaries get the same choices regarding benefits. However, since estates, trusts, Ys and other organizations do not have a life expectancy, they may only take a withdrawal and are not entitled to an annuity.

      Married participants need notarized consent from their spouse if they do not name their spouse as their only primary beneficiary.

    • If the primary beneficiary predeceases the participant, who will receive the death benefit?

      If a participant’s primary beneficiary(ies) predecease(s) them and they do not designate another, their benefits are paid based on how they designated contingent beneficiaries. If the participant did not name any contingent beneficiaries, benefits will be paid to the estate or next of kin. In general, each beneficiary will make a decision to take a withdrawal or an annuity (if amount is $5,000+).

    • If a participant has accounts in the Retirement Plan and Saving Plan, can they designate different beneficiaries for each plan?

      Before retirement, a participant’s beneficiary designation will apply to both plans.

      At retirement, they have the option to separately annuitize the plans. A beneficiary designation is necessary for the plan that is left at the Fund. If the Savings Plan is left at the Fund and the Retirement Plan is annuitized, they can designate beneficiaries for the Savings Plan and select separate beneficiaries for the Retirement Plan’s Retired Death Benefit.

      Also, if they decide to annuitize the plans separately, they may designate different survivors (if they select the Joint & Survivor Annuity options) for each plan.

    • Is enrollment in the Retirement Plan optional?

      No, individuals employed at Ys that participate in the Fund’s retirement plans must be enrolled in the Retirement Plan as soon as they are eligible, as a condition of employment, regardless of financial hardship. Only new employees hired for the first time by a Y after age 60, who are working for a Y that requires employees to make contributions, may elect to waive participation. These employees must complete a Waiver of Participation.

    • Can a former Y employee who took a withdrawal from the Fund return to work at a Y?

      It is inappropriate and not in the spirit of the existing law to engage in a pre-arranged strategy to collect retirement benefits while still employed. This is a violation of the Fund’s Retirement Plan rules as well as federal tax law.

      Whether a participant is hired by any Y in the future is entirely at the discretion of the employing Y. In order to avoid potential problems, it is recommended that the participant and Y discuss specific situations with their legal counsels and secure written legal options prior to taking any action.

      Section 5.1 &”A Participant’s eligibility to receive benefits under the Retirement Plan… must be the first day of a month subsequent to the cessation of Compensation and the severance from YMCA employment.”

      Section 6.3 &”In no event shall any Participant who is employed by a Participating YMCA have the right to a withdrawal of his/her Accumulated Basic Participant Contributions or his/her YMCA Account Balance.”

      Treasury Regulation Section 1.401(a)-1(b)(1)(i) &”In order for a pension plan to be a qualified plan under section 401(a), the plan must be established and maintained by an employer primarily to provide systematically for the payment of definitely determinable benefits to its employees over a period of years, usually for life, after retirement or attainment of normal retirement age.”

      IRS Rev. Rul. 74-254 &”Revenue Ruling 56-693, as modified by Rev. Rul. 60-323, holds that a pension plan fails to meet the requirements for qualification under section 401(a) of the Code if it permits employees to withdraw prior to normal retirement any part of the funds accumulated on their behalf, which consist of employer contributions or increments thereon prior to the severance of employment or the termination of the plan. Therefore, a pension plan does not qualify if it permits distributions prior to normal retirement and prior to termination of employment or termination of the plan.”

    • Can a participant contribute money that is not from their Y paycheck?

      The only way this can be done is if a participant rolls over money from an eligible pension account.

    • Are there limits on the amounts a participant can save for retirement?

      The federal government sets limits on the total amount of retirement contributions an employee and their employer can make each year, and on the amounts someone can contribute annually to their 403(b) Smart Account.

    • Are annuities guaranteed?

      The YMCA Retirement Fund can state with the greatest certainty that every retiree and beneficiary will get every penny of the retirement annuity promised to them.

      Our actuary reviews and monitors the Plan each year to determine the amount of reserves required to pay all future benefits. The assets of the Fund are invested and closely monitored by Fund management and Trustees in order to provide the highest level of return while protecting the value of the assets.

    • If a participant stops working for the Y, is it possible to postpone the start of annuity payments?

      Yes. As long as the participant is at least age 55 and no longer working for the Y, they can choose to begin their lifetime annuity at any time, regardless of how long they have been away from the Y. However, participants must either start their annuities or take a withdrawal by April 1 of the year after the calendar year in which they reach age 72 (age 73 if born in 1951 or later).

    • Can a retiree who is receiving an annuity from the Fund, or who has received a lump-sum distribution, return to work at a Y?

      There are certain legitimate situations where an individual may become re-employed by a Y after he or she begins receiving a lifetime annuity, or has taken a lump sum distribution from the Fund. Whether they are hired by any Y in the future is entirely at the discretion of the employing Y. In order to avoid potential problems, it is recommended that the retiree and Y discuss specific situations with their legal counsels and secure written legal opinions prior to taking any action.

      Here are three examples of acceptable situations:

      1. Jerry retired as a Branch Executive Director and began collecting his retirement benefit. Negotiations with his replacement fell through, and subsequently the Board asked him to return as the Branch Executive in an interim capacity while a new search is undertaken.
      2. Mary retired as Secretary of the Membership Department and began collecting her retirement benefit. After gardening and fixing up her home for six months, she became bored and applied for and was accepted for a part-time position in the development office at another Y.
      3. George terminated his Y employment because he was relocating from his hometown to another state to be closer to his sister. He applied for and received a lump sum distribution from the Retirement Plan. Six months later, George and his sister were not getting along so he moved back to his hometown and applied for and was accepted for another position at the Y.

      Here are three examples of unacceptable situations:

      1. A very difficult personal situation necessitated that Brad find a way to add to his household income. Accordingly, he arranged with his supervisor that he would retire, begin collecting his retirement benefit, and then be rehired to his existing job.
      2. Lucy was all set to retire as the CEO, but the Board had not yet found her replacement. The Board asked her to stay on for three extra months while they extended their search. She agreed, with the understanding that she would continue earning her salary and also start her retirement annuity.
      3. Because Robin needed money to pay off her bills, she arranged with her supervisor that she would terminate employment, take a distribution from the Fund, and then be rehired to her existing job.
    • What is the process for a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)?

      A QDRO is a court order that relates to the provision of marital property rights, alimony payments or child support for the benefit of a former spouse, child, or other dependent of the participant.

      Usually the participant and their former spouse negotiate what part, if any, of the participant’s retirement accounts will be set aside for the former spouse. One of their lawyers will prepare a QDRO and submit it to the divorce court. See the standard procedures and suggested wording. Once approved, the lawyer sends a certified copy to the Fund. The Fund will also look over the participant’s draft QDROs to let them know if all requirements are met before they submit it to the court. For more information, please call the Fund’s Legal Department at 800-738-9622.

      The Fund reviews the QDRO to see that it meets the requirements of both federal pension law and the Retirement Plan. If it does, both the participant and their former spouse are notified as soon as administratively reasonable. The former spouse will then receive a letter indicating the options available (withdrawal, rollovers, and annuity). If the QDRO does not meet the requirements, the QDRO is returned for corrections and a hold is placed on the participant’s accounts, which means the participant will not be able to take a withdrawal or begin an annuity. This hold on their accounts will be in effect until the Fund receives a correct QDRO or for 18 months, whichever is less.