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You may have some options, but be thorough before you make a decision.

First, you need to determine what exactly your rights are. To find out, you need to obtain a summary plan description on your 401(k), but also and more importantly, a summary plan on your pension. This is critical. While you may be able to obtain your 401(k) money now by changing your employemnt classification, you may significantly reduce your pension benefits.

Second, what benefits do you have in your current classification? Are you being provided health insurance (even if you contribute to it) or have you been placed on COBRA? If the latter, you wont lose anything here. If not, you run the risk of having to buy health insurance at market rates and subject possibly to health status.

Third, recall rights, do you have any? You may not want to go back to work there now, but what about in 2 years? Don't relenquish this if you can help it.

Fourth, does your 401(k) have MMM stock in it? If so, you realize you will lose some significant tax advantages if you roll it over to an IRA?

This is just a start. I empathize with your needing funds from your 401(k). However, make sure you have examined all options and alternatives before making a decision you may regret later.

Good luck.

M Grabhorn, CFP

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