Guide to Transferring Your Benefits When Changing Jobs

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Changing jobs means not only changing your salary, but also changing benefits, your retirement options, and possibly even moving. It can be a stressful time, since you are focusing on making a good impression on your new boss and coworkers.

However, your financial decisions are still important and should be considered carefully. Remember that taking advantage of some work benefits can reduce your taxable income. Here are the most important benefits to think about with your new job.

Key Takeaways

  • When you change jobs, there may be a waiting period before you qualify for health insurance, so you should consider using COBRA or getting a short-term policy.
  • You may want to roll over your 401(k) to a new plan or to an IRA so it's easier to keep track of your accounts.
  • If other health benefits, such as vision and dental insurance, are offered be sure to research whether they make financial sense for you.
  • If moving expenses are covered by your new employer, be sure to get all the requirements about choosing a mover and how the expenses will be paid.

Health Insurance

Generally, there is a waiting period at a new employer before you qualify for health insurance. You still need health insurance coverage during that time. You can choose between using COBRA insurance or a short-term health insurance policy.

The short-term insurance policy will cost less but is catastrophic insurance, which means you will have a high deductible to meet before it starts covering your medical bills. A short-term policy is exempt from providing some coverage required by the Affordable Are Act.

When you sign up for new health insurance through your new employer, you may have different policies to choose from. Choose the most affordable plan that will give you the coverage you need.

If you do not need a lot of coverage, you can opt for a cheaper plan. You may want to consider a high deductible insurance plan, particularly if your employer will contribute to a Health Savings Account on your behalf. Try to avoid a hybrid plan that has high deductibles but does not kick in with full coverage once you meet them. 

Retirement Benefits

A new job means a new retirement plan. Many people leave a trail of 401(k)s behind them as their career progresses. They forget to roll their 401(k) over or figure it is too complicated. But rolling over your 401(k) makes it easier to keep track of your accounts.

You can roll your 401(k) into a new 401(k) at your new job. Be sure to ask your plan administrator for help, because you'll need to follow certain rules to make sure there are no tax consequences.

Another option is to roll your 401(k) into an IRA at an investment firm or at your bank. That may give you more options for funds to include.

If you have a 401(k) loan, you may have to pay it back when you leave your job, depending on your employer's rules. If you don't clear the balance or continue to make payments, it may be reported to the IRS as a withdrawal and be subject to income tax.

There may be a waiting period before you can begin contributing to a 401(k) at your new job. If this is the case, do not get out of the habit of contributing to retirement. Set up a monthly contribution to an IRA account until you qualify for your employer’s 401(k). Sign up for the benefits and any matching contributions you qualify for as soon as you are eligible. 

Other Health Benefits

When you start, you should be given the opportunity to sign up for a Flexible Spending Account as well as other types of insurance. A good starting point would be to consider what you had before you left your old job and see if the coverage is comparable to what your new job is offering.

You may find that the dental plan is better at your new job and is worth signing up for. On the other hand, the vision plan may not be worth the money. It is important to realize that as your family changes and as you age, some benefits will become more important to have than when you are young, single, and healthy.

Moving Expenses

If you are moving for your new job, be sure to scout out your new area before signing a lease. You should also use a financial moving checklist to make sure you change all of the addresses you need to, close accounts, and keep yourself from late payments and other hassles that come with moving.

If your company is paying for the move, ask what the procedure and rules are. You may need to work with a particular moving company or gather quotes from a set number of vendors. The company may pay the vendor directly, or you may need to pay up front and request to be reimbursed. Be sure to keep your receipts.

Moving expenses are no longer tax deductible for tax years 2018-2025.

FAQs

What happens to health benefits when you switch jobs?

Your previous employer may pay for your healthcare insurance until the end of the month that you leave the job. And your new employer may have a waiting period before you're eligible for coverage. You can try negotiating for earlier coverage as part of your job offer. Otherwise, you should plan for separate insurance during the coverage gap, either through COBRA or a short-term insurance policy.

Does my deductible start over if I change jobs?

Your deductible is the amount you pay for health care out of pocket before insurance coverage kicks in. Unfortunately, you can't transfer that amount to a new health plan, so your deductible will start over when you change jobs and get new insurance.

Article Sources

  1. Texas Department of Insurance. "Thinking About a New Job? Don't Forget the Insurance."

  2. Washington State Insurance Commissioner. "What You Need To Know About Short-Term Medical Plans."

  3. Ameriprise Financial. "What Should You Do With Your 401(k) When You Change Jobs?"

  4. Vanguard. "Stay Put or Roll Over?"

  5. Internal Revenue Service. "What If I Am Searching for a Job?"

  6. Internal Revenue Service. "What If I'm Searching for a Job?"

  7. Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Care Network of Michigan. "What Happens to My Health Insurance When I Lose My Job?"