Is my retirement plan really mine or can they take it away?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is my retirement plan really mine or can they take it away?

I just got laid off and my company accidentally gave me a retirement plan. I wasn’t supposed to qualify for because I was only part-time but I got the letter in the mail that I have one. Can they take it away or can I transfer it or cash it out?

Asked on April 12, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

They can absolutely take it away. You write that you were not "supposed to qualify for" the plan; the law is very clear that being given something by mistake or error does not entitle you to keep it. Since you did not qualify for the plan, you have no right to it. If you do manage to cash out the money, they can sue you to get it back--and in some circumstances, could potentially make you pay their legal fees, too.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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