401(a) Defined Contribution Plan Overview

Below are some of the important features about the Plan. This website is intended to be a summary of the plan provisions. In the event that a conflict exists between the information contained within this website and the plan document, the plan document provisions prevail. For more information, view the Frequently Asked Questions or contact us.


Employees eligible for participation include any employee who is:

  • a County Elected Official serving on the Board of Supervisors
  • a County Elected Official serving as a County Department Head;
  • a County contract employee, if the contract as approved by the Board of Supervisors specifies that the employee is eligible; or
  • other categories of employees as specified by the County Board of Supervisors. Independent contractors are not eligible to participate.


The County will make employer contributions for eligible employees of a percentage of compensation as specified by the Board of Supervisors. Employee contributions to the Plan are not permitted. Employee contributions (other than eligible rollovers from other eligible retirement plans) to the Plan are not permitted. Under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 415, the annual additions to all 401(a) defined contribution plans maintained by an employer (including 401(k) plans) are limited to the lesser of $40,000 (indexed for cost of living adjustments) or 100% of a participant’s compensation. If contributions are made on your behalf to the County’s 401(a) and 401(k) Plans, this limit applies to the total contributions to both Plans.


Participants are 100% vested at all times.

Timing of Distributions

Distributions are allowed only upon:

  • separation from service either before or after normal retirement date (attainment of age 55);
  • attainment of age 59½;
  • total and permanent disability; or
  • death.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that distributions under a 401(a) plan begin no later than the April 1st of the calendar year following the calendar year in which you attain age 72 or separate from service, whichever occurs later. If you fail to receive the minimum required distribution for any tax year, a 50% excise tax is imposed on the required amount that was not timely distributed. These rules are referred to as IRS minimum required distribution requirements (MRD).

Payment Options

When you are entitled to a distribution of benefits under the Plan, the following payment options are available:

  • Full or partial lump sum payment. A lump sum payment is the automatic form of benefits for accounts less than $5,000.
  • Periodic payments of your account (for account balances of at least $5,000)
    -Specified Period- not less than 3 years and no more than your life expectancy.
    -Specified Amount- cannot be less than $250 per payment and no more than 33 1/3% of your account.
  • Rollover into another eligible plan
    -Your distribution can be rolled over into a 401(a), 401(k) 403(b) or other governmental 457 plans and traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

Please note that with respect to amounts rolled over into a non-457(b) eligible retirement plan, any subsequent distributions to the participant from the non-457(b) plan will be subject to an IRS 10% premature distribution penalty tax on the taxable portion if distributed prior to 59 ½, unless an exemption applies.

All distributions are eligible for rollover except for: 1) amounts distributed for a hardship withdrawal; 2) IRS minimum required distributions payable on or after you attain age 72; and 3) periodic payments made over your life or a specified period of 10 years or more.

Annuity payment options are not permitted

To select a distribution under the Plan, you will need to complete a Termination/Distribution Request Authorization form that is available by calling Customer Service at (800) 584-6001.

Divorce and Domestic Relations Matters

In the event a court issues a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), your account will be split and payments will be made, as specified in the QDRO. In the event the QDRO identifies the alternate payee as your former spouse (“spousal alternate payee”), he or she is entitled to elect immediate distribution of the amounts awarded under the QDRO. A spousal alternate payee is also eligible to rollover amounts awarded to another eligible retirement plan in which he or she participates. In the event of divorce, please contact Customer Service at (800) 584-6001 to request a Domestic Relations Order (DRO) information package.

Distributions for Health and Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums

The Plan allows certain eligible retired public safety officers the opportunity to directly transfer up to $3,000 annually tax-free for direct payment of qualified health insurance premiums (accident, health insurance or long-term care). Annual limit is an aggregate on distributions from all plan types maintained by the employer. To find out if you are eligible for this plan benefit, call your local Voya representative or Customer Service at (800) 584-6001.

Death Benefits

Upon your death, benefits would be payable to the beneficiary(ies) that you designated under the Plan. If you have not designated a beneficiary, payment of death benefits will be made payable in the following order of priority:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Your estate

Under the Plan, if you are married, your spouse must be your sole primary beneficiary unless your spouse consents in writing to your naming of an alternate beneficiary.

To verify who your beneficiary is on record or to make changes to your beneficiary information, Log In


All of the payments you receive from the Plan are subject to federal and state income taxes.

Federal income tax withholding will apply to your payments, as described below, based on whether you were eligible to rollover the distribution.

  • If you receive a distribution that was eligible to be rolled over, a mandatory 20% will be withheld for federal tax purposes at the time of payment.
  • If you receive a distribution that was not eligible to be rolled over, 10% will be withheld for federal tax purposes at the time of payment. However, you may elect to have no tax withheld.

Amounts distributed from a 401(k) plan are subject to the IRS 10% premature distribution penalty tax if distributed prior to attaining age 59½, unless an IRS exception applies. IRS exceptions include payments made:

  • upon your severance from employment/retirement on or after you attain age 55;
  • in substantially equal amounts over your life/life expectancy;
  • as a result of your total and permanent disability;
  • to your former spouse as an alternate payee under a QDRO; or
  • to your beneficiary as a result of your death.

Transfers for the Purchase of Service Credits

A participant may request a direct transfer of all or a portion of his account to any qualified retirement plan that accepts direct transfers for the purchase of eligible prior service credit. If you wish to purchase prior service credit through the San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association (SBCERA) please follow the steps outlined below:

  • Contact Employee Benefits and Services at (909) 387-5831. They will calculate the exact period of time available for purchase.
  • Contact SBCERA to determine the cost of the purchase. They will provide you with a letter and the forms you need to complete the transfer with Voya®.
  • Call the Service Center at (800) 584-6001 to request a Withdrawal and Transfer Request for Purchase of Governmental Defined Benefit Service Credit.
  • After you have received the letter from SBCERA and completed all the required forms, submit them directly to the San Bernardino County Employee Benefits and Services Division for processing and the Employees Benefits and Services Division will forward them to Voya for processing.

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Insurance products issued by Voya Retirement Insurance and Annuity Company, One Orange Way, Windsor, CT 06095-4774. Securities are distributed by Voya Financial Partners LLC (member SIPC). Custodial account agreements or trust agreements are provided by Voya Institutional Trust Company. Insurance obligations are the responsibility of each individual company. All companies are members of the Voya® family of companies. Securities may also be distributed through other broker-dealers with which Voya has selling agreements. Product and services may not be available in all states.