When Can I Make Catch-Up Contributions to 401K, IRA, 403b and SIMPLE IRA Retirement Plans

This article was last updated on October 26

[Updated with current limits] Catch-up contributions allow people who feel that they do not have enough of a nest egg to make higher retirement plan contributions as they approach retirement. If you are over or turning 50 in a given calendar year you are eligible to make additional or catch-up contributions to your current retirement plan (401K, 403b, IRA etc). The catch-up contribution is not prorated or apportioned in the year you turn 50. This means that as long as you turn 50 by December 31st of the given year, you can make the full catch-up contribution amount.

In addition to standard deferral/contribution limits, eligible participants can make catch-up contributions up to $6,500. The following plans are covered by this maximum limit : 401(k), 403(b), and governmental 457(b). Plan contributions are not treated as catch-up contributions until they exceed the annual standard limit as shown in the table below. So for those over 50, the maximum contribution limit in 2020 would be $26,000 ($19,500 + $6,500).

Catch-up contributions are generally made in the same manner as regular contributions, i.e. through an automatic payroll deduction or via the plan administrator. They must also be made before the end of the plan year which varies by plan and employer, but generally ranges from December 31st to April 15th.

Contribution Limit
Maximum Employer Contribution
Max. for ALL Contributions (excl. Catch-up)
Additional Catch-up Amount (age > 50)

Other retirement plan catch-up  contribution limits

For those over 50, SIMPLE IRA or SIMPLE 401(k) plans may permit catch-up contributions up to $2,500. This is above the standard $11,500  contribution limit for SIMPLE IRA plans. You can also make catch-up contributions of up to $1,000 to your Traditional or Roth IRA. Catch-up contributions to an IRA are due by the due date of your tax return (not including extensions).

SEP-IRAs, which have higher maximum contribution limits, do not allow additional catch-up contributions like the other tax-advantaged retirement plans discussed above.

SEP Employer Contribution Limit$57,000 or 25% of compensation$56,000 or 25% of compensation$55,000 or 25% of compensation$54,000 or 25% of compensation$53,000 or 25% of compensation$53,000 or 25% of compensation
SEP minimum compensation$600$600$600$600$600$600
SEP annual compensation limit$285,000$280,000$275,000$270,000$265,000$265,000

One thought on “When Can I Make Catch-Up Contributions to 401K, IRA, 403b and SIMPLE IRA Retirement Plans

  1. “So for those over 50, the maximum contribution limit in 2018 would be $25,000 ($18,500 + $5,500).”

    That’s incorrect; it should say $24,000.

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