457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan

Highly compensated employees have the option of participating in the 457(b) Deferred Compensation plan, which allows you to defer a portion of your compensation into investment funds that you select.

About the 457(b) Plan

Participation in this plan is limited to employees earning 125% or more of the IRS annual highly compensated limit ($162,500 for 2020).

With the 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan, you can defer your compensation into the investment funds you select.

Contributions into the 457(b) are exempt from federal and state income taxes, but FICA taxes are withheld. Although the investments are directed by the participant, the funds are owned by Emory until the time of distribution.

Deferred amounts are not available to participants until termination of employment, except under a qualified domestic court order. The distributed amounts are then subject to federal and state income taxes at the time of distribution. Participants select the method and timing of distribution after the termination of employment; however, distribution must begin by age 70½.

You can make contributions to one or more of the following retirement vendors:


Regular full-time employees earning 125% or more of the IRS annual highly compensated limit are eligible. For 2020, an employee must earn $162,500 to be eligible to participate.

Eligible salary from which deferrals can be made:

  • Regular earnings
  • Summer school
  • Summer research
  • Fulton-Dekalb Authority

NOTE: Transfers from other plans are not permitted.


Deferrals may begin:

  • The first of the following month following being hired into an eligible status OR
  • The first of the following month once salary eligibility criteria are met.

You must complete a 457(b) Deferred Compensation Agreement Form. It will be processed as soon as administratively possible but no later than the 1st of the following month.


You can defer compensation up to the annual IRS annual limit. For 2020, the IRS limit is $19,500. Catch-up contributions to the 457(b) plan can only occur in the last 3 years of active employment prior to the normal retirement age of 65.

You can contribute the lesser of:

  • Twice the annual limit, or
  • The annual limit plus the total amount of underutilized contributions from prior years

Emory does not contribute or match participant contributions to the 457(b) Plan.

How to Enroll

Step 1:

Complete the 457(b) Deferred Compensation Agreement Form detailing your vendor selections and salary deferral amount and submit your completed form to the Benefits and Work Life Department.

Step 2:

Complete the account application for the vendor(s) you selected and submit the completed form(s) to the Benefits and Work Life Department:

Step 3:

Register with your selected vendor(s). Once registered, you can select your investment funds. If you do not select funds when you register with your vendor(s), you will be automatically placed into the Lifecycle Fund with your selected vendor(s) until you make your selections. 


If you need help in selecting funds, refer to the Investment Performance Chart or visit your selected vendor(s) website for information on fund performance. The Investment Performance Chart is updated quarterly.

You can also schedule a Retirement Counseling Session with the vendor(s) of your choice.

Ways to Invest

The 457(b) Plan has a different lineup of investment choices than the 403(b) Savings Plan and the 403(b) Roth.

For detailed information on funds available for investment, contact your selected vendor(s):


You are always 100% vested in your contributions. Please note that although investments are directed by you, the funds are owned by Emory until distributed.

Accessing Funds

Post employment distribution

Participants have up to 90 days after separation from Emory and all other affiliates to make a one-time irrevocable decision on the distribution option and timing of distribution. In the event an election is not made during the 90-day period following severance from employment, the participant shall be paid in 5 equal annual installment payments. The payments will begin as soon as administratively possible after the 90-day period.

Distribution options

  • Lump sum, or
  • Installment payments (monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual), or
  • Single Life Annuity, or
  • Joint Life Annuity


  • Federal law does not allow 457(b) money to be rolled over into an IRA.
  • You cannot access funds while still employed with Emory.
  • Plan loans, hardship withdrawals and in-service withdrawals are not available with the 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan.

Making Changes

To your contribution amounts

Changes to your contribution amounts can be made by filling out a new 457(b) Deferred Compensation Agreement Form with the new amount and submitting it to the Benefits and Work Life Department.

To your vendor(s)

You can add or change your vendor selection by filling out a new 457(b) Deferred Compensation Agreement Form detailing your vendor selection(s) and salary reduction/deferral amount and complete an application (see below) for the vendor(s) you select. Submit the form to the Benefits and Work Life Department.

To your beneficiaries

To make changes to your beneficiaries, contact your vendor(s) directly. Changes are effective the first of the month after receipt.