Question: What are catch-up contributions?
 
Answer :

If you are 50 or older, or you will reach age 50 by the end of the year, you may be able to make contributions to your IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan above the normal contribution limit. Catch-up contributions are designed to help you make up any retirement savings shortfall by bumping up the amount you can save in the years leading up to retirement. Catch-up contributions can be made to traditional and Roth IRAs, as well as to 401(k) plans and certain other employer-sponsored retirement plans. But if you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, check plan rules--not all plans allow catch-up contributions.

How much can you contribute as a catch-up contribution? It depends on the type of retirement plan you have and the tax year for which you are making the contribution.

Contribution for tax years 2009 and 2010:

401(k), 403(b), governmental 457(b) plans:*

  • $16,500 regular annual contribution limit and $5,500 catch-up contribution limit

SIMPLE plans:

  • $11,500 regular annual contribution limit and $2,500 catch-up contribution limit

Traditional and Roth IRAs:

  • $5,000 regular annual contribution limit and $1,000 catch-up contribution limit

*403(b) and 457(b) plans also have special catch-up rules that may apply.