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A 457 gives you the ability to withdraw the money with no penalty (just tax) when you leave your job. This is because the 457 is not considered a "qualified retirement plan".

http://www.fool.com/retirement/retireeport/2001/retireeport011008.htm - be sure to scroll down to where it talks about 2002.

The 457 plan assets of tax-exempt employers are subject to the claims of the employer's creditors, but those of plans sponsored by governmental entities are not.
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Beginning in 2002, someone who participates in both a 457 plan and a 401(k)/403(b) plan may make a maximum contribution to both plans without having to reduce the 457 plan contribution.
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in some ways these plans have now become a better retirement tool than their 401(k) and 403(b) cousins
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