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Making Contributions to Multiple Retirement Plans

The limits are more generous than you might think.


I have several retirement plans—a defined benefit plan and a 457 plan through my employer, as well as a Roth IRA. Am I allowed to contribute to all of them, and how much can I contribute?

You can contribute to all of your plans. In general, participating in a defined benefit plan (such as a pension) doesn't affect how much you can save in a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k) or 457, because those types of plans are subject to separate overall limits, says Stuart Ritter, a certified financial planner with T. Rowe Price.

See Also: 6 Savvy Moves to Stretch Your Retirement Savings

Also, contributions to a 457 plan—a type of retirement-savings plan that is available to many public-sector employees—are subject to limits that are separate from the limits on 401(k)s, 403(b)s and IRAs. Some public school teachers, health care workers, and other nonprofit and public-sector employees have the opportunity to contribute the maximum $18,000 (or $24,000 if 50 or older anytime in 2015) to both a 457 and a 403(b) at work. See Doubling Retirement-Savings Plan Contributions for more information.

You can also contribute the full $5,500 (or $6,500 if you're 50 or older) to a traditional IRA without affecting your other retirement-plan contribution limits, although participating in an employer-sponsored plan could affect your eligibility to take a tax deduction for the contributions to a traditional IRA (see the 2015 IRA deduction rules). You can make nondeductible contributions to a traditional IRA regardless of your income or other retirement plans.


Or you can contribute up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you're 50 or older) to a Roth IRA if your income in 2015 is less than $193,000 if married filing jointly (with the contribution amount starting to phase out for incomes over $183,000) or $131,000 for single filers (with the phaseout starting at $116,000), regardless of whether you participate in a retirement plan at work.

For more information about the coordination of plans, see the IRS's How Much Salary Can You Defer if You're Eligible for More than One Retirement Plan? See the IRS's Types of Retirement Plans page for the contribution limits for each type of plan.

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