Many people understandably worry about their retirement funds in bankruptcy. If they file for bankruptcy, do they get to keep these funds? Or will the bankruptcy court look at this money as an opportunity to pay creditors? 

You will be happy to hear that most retirement accounts are protected in bankruptcy. But it’s still important to know your rights, as there may be consequences for withdrawing money and limits on certain accounts. The Law Office of William Waldner will show you how to safeguard your resources while going through the bankruptcy process. 

The bankruptcy process may seem intimidating, but knowing more about how to protect your retirement funds can make all the difference in securing your financial future.

Facing bankruptcy is not an easy experience. But here’s a silver lining – your retirement funds are generally safe.

This protection is largely due to state laws that shield these assets during both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. However, there can be exceptions and limitations, which is why it’s essential to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in NY.  

Role of Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

You might wonder how federal exemptions come into play when protecting your nest egg during such financial turmoil. In simple terms, these exemptions act as an extra layer of security over certain assets like ERISA-qualified retirement accounts during bankruptcy proceedings.

In addition to your ERISA-qualified retirement accounts, Social Security benefits are also considered exempt in bankruptcy. We do recommend depositing your Social Security checks into a separate account. If you deposit them into your regular account, they can get mixed in with your income. 

Fortunately, you will have help from both your attorney and your bankruptcy trustee. Your bankruptcy trustee will ensure compliance with state laws and regulations, as well as sell and distribute assets to pay off your creditors. Your bankruptcy attorney will also make sure that your retirement income is accurately reported, and that your retirement assets are safe. 

The Impact of Withdrawing Money from Retirement Accounts During Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy can feel like a financial storm, and your retirement accounts might seem like the perfect shelter. But is withdrawing money from these protected funds really such a good idea? Let’s explore.

Aging Individuals and Withdrawal Considerations

If you’re close to or have already achieved retirement, most of your wealth is likely stored in these accounts. That makes them even more crucial to protect when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Withdrawing money before reaching the golden years comes with its own set of problems too: tax penalties are just one part of this puzzle as per IRS guidelines on early distributions. Plus, once withdrawn, those previously shielded dollars become fair game for creditors.

Exploring Limitations and Exemptions for Different Types of Retirement Accounts

The bankruptcy court has different rules when it comes to exemptions on retirement accounts. For instance, the cap limit set by federal bankruptcy laws is $1,512,350 across all your traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs as per 2023 regulations.

ERISA-Qualified Retirement Accounts vs Non-ERISA Accounts

If you’re fortunate enough to possess an ERISA-qualified plan such as a 401(k), then rejoice. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) shields these types of plans from creditors during bankruptcy proceedings. This means your ERISA-qualified funds are secure, no matter how much you have saved.

But what if your savings are tucked away in non-ERISA qualified plans such as traditional or Roth individual retirement accounts? Unfortunately, non-ERISA qualified plans such as traditional or Roth individual retirement accounts are not exempt from the $1,512,350 exemption limit set by U.S Code Title 11 Section 522(n). These kinds of arrangements don’t enjoy unlimited protection. Instead, they come under U.S Code Title 11 Section 522(n), which sets the exemption limit at $1,512,350.

This disparity underscores why understanding the ins-and-outs of your specific type of retirement plan can be game-changing when dealing with potential Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy issues.


  • Filing for Bankruptcy doesn’t mean losing everything. With proper legal guidance from an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in NY, you can protect most assets, including pension plans and investment accounts. 

Why You Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer When Retirement Funds Are at Stake

Filing bankruptcy is not for the faint-hearted, especially when retirement funds are on the line. A New York bankruptcy lawyer can be your guiding light during this tumultuous journey.

The Crucial Role of Your Local Bankruptcy Lawyer in Safeguarding Assets

A skilled and knowledgeable attorney well-versed with Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy intricacies becomes an indispensable ally. They know their way around federal exemptions and state laws that shield retirement accounts from being swallowed up by debts.

This legal specialist will collaborate with you to investigate all potential paths to financial freedom, such as debt consolidation, Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. They will also look at how different types of assets such as ERISA-qualified retirement accounts might fare under various scenarios.

If finding a competent lawyer seems like another mountain to climb, don’t fret. William Waldner is an award winning bankruptcy attorney that offers free consultations. 


If you are considering filing bankruptcy, it’s important to understand how this can affect your nest egg. 

For example, withdrawing money from your retirement accounts during bankruptcy has significant implications. It’s considered income for bankruptcy purposes and could lead to hefty tax penalties if not managed correctly.

Additionally, the limitations on exemptions vary across different types of retirement accounts – traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, pension plans among others. Knowledge about these nuances is key in making informed decisions.

Seeking professional advice when considering bankruptcy cannot be overstated. A competent lawyer can help you navigate this complex terrain with ease while protecting your hard-earned savings. Request your free consultation from The Law Office of William Waldner.