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Guide to Retirement Accounts for Physicians

Investing into retirement accounts is one of the best ways to grow your wealth in a tax advantaged way, while also ensuring that you are making progress on your journey towards financial independence and that you have a steady stream of income during retirement. For physicians, who often have a late start in saving for retirement due to their long training, this is one of the first steps to prioritize when learning basic personal finance for physicians. There are several different types of retirement accounts, including options for self-employed and side gig physicians who don’t have the opportunity to contribute to a plan sponsored by their employer. Different accounts have different contribution limits, different pros and cons, and some, such as the Roth IRA and health savings account (HSA) have restrictions on who can contribute. Below, we guide physicians through the options, limitations, restrictions, and a few legal hacks to help optimize your retirement planning and investing.

Disclaimer: Our content is for generalized educational purposes.  While we try to ensure it is accurate and updated, we cannot guarantee it. Rules/laws can change frequently. While we have attempted to explain this to the best of our ability, we are not accountants and this is complex information that can be misinterpreted or unclear. We are not formal financial, legal, or tax professionals and do not provide individualized advice specific to your situation. You should consult these as appropriate and/or do your own due diligence before making decisions based on this page. To learn more, visit our disclaimers and disclosures.

Retirement accounts for physicians

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If you need help putting together a comprehensive financial plan, including assessing and prioritizing your specific retirement plan options, reach out to a financial advisor for physicians for help.

We have several breakout articles on the retirement plan options covered below. Follow the learn more links to dive deeper into each topic.

Tax-Advantaged Retirement Accounts for Physicians

There are several different retirement account options that the US government tries to incentivize Americans to use for retirement planning by offering tax advantages. 

With your normal taxable investment accounts outside of retirement accounts, the money goes in with after tax dollars, and you are taxed on income that is generated within those accounts on an annual basis. With retirement accounts, you are either able to contribute to those accounts with pre-tax dollars, meaning that contributions come straight out of your paycheck without being taxed, thus lowering your taxable income for the year, and then grow tax free until you access those funds, or you pay the taxes upfront, but then you are never taxed on that money again. 

If you understand the power of compounding growth on your net worth, you’ll know that every dollar that isn’t being taxed over the years is able to make more money for you year over year, and dramatically accelerate your pathway towards financial freedom.

Physicians and their spouses are often in a fortunate position to max out one or several of these secondary to their higher income and ability to save more. They can in turn leverage these options to help build wealth and reduce their tax burden.

Having a 401k doesn’t prevent you from having an IRA or a HSA or vice versa. Investing in all of the possible accounts available to you and balancing traditional and Roth contributions can enable you to have a comprehensive tax strategy in retirement to minimize taxes.

We have a TL;DR summary of the 2024 retirement plan contribution limits for the accounts referenced below.

When possible, we recommend maxing these retirement accounts out to capitalize on your tax-advantaged options. The limits reset every year, and you cannot carry them over, so you should stay on top of them.

Traditional Versus Roth Retirement Account Options

Many retirement accounts are available with both Roth and traditional options. This distinction tells you what type of tax advantage the retirement account has.

With a Roth account, you make contributions after you’ve already paid taxes on them. Your contributions then grow tax free. When you withdraw the funds, they are tax free as well.

With a traditional account, you make the contributions pre-tax, which lowers your taxable income for the year, saving you on taxes now. Your contributions grow tax-deferred, then you pay taxes when you withdraw the funds.

Early Withdrawal Penalties on Retirement Accounts

Tax-advantaged plans are meant specifically for retirement savings. The government has a “retirement age” they determine for retirement accounts. If you want to withdraw funds before this date, you can be subject to penalties and/or taxes you otherwise wouldn’t pay, so this is money that you don’t want to touch before retirement unless absolutely necessary. When investing in these accounts, make sure this money is earmarked for retirement savings and not something else in your budget.

While some retirement accounts do have special provisions that can allow you to withdraw funds penalty and tax free for situations such as a house purchase, once you pull out the funds, you can’t recontribute them. This can greatly lower your compounding growth potential in these tax-advantaged accounts. It’s almost always better to use other funds for these purposes.

Some accounts also allow you to purchase a piece of real estate within the account itself, but this can make it more difficult to manage, sell, etc. Work with a skilled accountant to weigh the pros and cons of this choice.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) on Retirement Accounts

Traditional pre-tax retirement accounts are subject to RMDs under the current legislation, as the IRS does need to get paid at some point.

Notable Exception: HSAs covered below do not fall under this requirement, as they are a special stealth retirement account not taxed like traditional plans even though contributions are made pre-tax. We love it for this reason.

Once you reach the predetermined RMD age (73 as of 2024), you are required to withdraw a certain amount per year, which is based on your account balance and your life expectancy. The more you have in your account and the older you are, the more you’ll be required to withdraw and thus the more you’ll be taxed on. If you have a very large amount of RMDs, this can put you into a higher tax bracket during retirement than you may be expecting, so plan accordingly. This is one of the benefits of Roth accounts, as they have already been taxed and thus the government doesn’t care about forcing you to use the funds now so that they can get their cut.

While you can access your retirement funds before your RMD age without penalty, we’d encourage most physicians to try not to if they’d like to maximize the additional years of tax-advantaged growth in their retirement accounts. 

If you don’t take your RMDs as required, you will be assessed a hefty penalty. If you’re unclear what the rules for RMDs are, work with an accountant to make sure you’re in compliance once you reach the RMD age.

Retirement accounts for physicians to consider

Employer Sponsored Retirement Accounts

One of the easiest ways to build up your retirement investing is to put it on autopay, which is a great feature of employer plans. Your contributions are taken out of your paycheck at the amount or percentage you determine before you bring the money home and have a chance to spend it. You can set up your asset allocation to have your contributions auto invest with each paycheck.

Do not leave your contributions sitting in cash. Make sure you are investing them within your 401k, as the plan itself is more like a savings account, not an investment type that will automatically earn you money. If not invested, they can produce some interest, but it will be a fraction of what you could make versus being invested well. Focus on a balance of bonds and stocks with options such as mutual funds, ETFs, and index funds.

If you’re interested in real estate investment trusts (REITs) or target date index funds, retirement accounts can be a great place to invest in these. This is because these types of investments tend to be less tax efficient in regular taxable investment accounts, as they are high income and capital gains producing investments. By staying in retirement accounts, you avoid having to pay the taxes associated with these cash flowing investments on an annual basis.

Learn more about REITs and target date index funds.

Contribution Limits for Employer Sponsored Retirement Accounts

As of 2024, the annual employee contribution limit across all employed sponsored plans is $23,000. This includes 401k, 403b, and eligible 457b plans, which we’ll cover below. The IRS allows an additional $7,500 in catch-up contributions for individuals 50 or older. This means if you contribute $23,000 to one of these plans, you most likely cannot contribute more to other plans as an employEE, but only as an employER (for self employed income through your side gigs, for example!). 

If you leave a job midway through the year and haven’t maximized your contribution for the year, you can contribute the balance to a plan at your new employer, but you do not start fresh with an additional $23,000 for the 2024 calendar year, so be careful not to overcontribute.

Some employer sponsored plans offer the opportunity to put more money into retirement via a mega backdoor Roth option.

Employer Contributions to Sponsored Retirement Accounts

Many employers offer an employer match into your employer sponsored plan. For every dollar you invest, they might invest $0.50 for a 50% match. Or they might match your contributions dollar for dollar for a 100% match. Some employers may contribute even if you don’t! Others can have a sliding scale on what percentage they match depending on how much you invest, or have a limit on how much of your contributions (such as up to 10% or up to $10,000) they will match.

If your employer is willing to match 50% or 100% of a certain amount you invest, this can be a  50%-100% return on your investment immediately, which far exceeds the stock market average of around 10% over the last century.

Free money is the greatest growth you’ll find in investing, so we recommend at a minimum contributing up to the match.

While you can often decide whether your contributions from your paycheck are traditional or Roth if your plan offers both, the employer portion of contributions is always made pre-tax into the traditional side of your account.

401k Plans

401k plans have become the standard in corporate America, replacing the pension, which most employers apart from the government and a few large institutions have mostly phased out. While pensions didn’t have the best returns, they did help force employees to save with mandatory contributions and helped provide a steady income stream during retirement. It is now imperative that the employees themselves take the initiative to make saving and contributions a priority.

The 401k and similar plans below are one of the best retirement accounts to help you on your path to financial independence, but they should not be your only investing for the year. We like to recommend that physicians try to save 20% of what they earn at minimum after they’re done with training. Many high-income earners can max out their 401k annual contributions for the year before hitting 15%-20% of their income, so also make sure you invest in a taxable account. But the retirement plans are a great place to start, and are low hanging fruit with tax advantages, so you should in general fill those buckets before moving on to taxable accounts. 

If you aren’t already investing into your plan, reach out to your company’s HR department or explore your online employee portal to get started. It can be as simple as changing your contribution percentage from 0% to whatever new amount you wish to contribute.

Under federal law, assets in 401k plans are generally protected from claims from creditors, including malpractice suits. This makes a 401k plan great for physicians to include in their asset protection plan.

Your employer picks who manages their 401k plan and what assets to offer within the plan, as well as if they will offer a Roth component or not. Some may be limited to a handful of select funds, while others may have vast investment options such as numerous mutual funds, ETFs, and individual stocks and bonds. The funds available and the plan manager can make a difference in the fees and expense ratios of what you’re investing into. Spend a little time investigating these expenses, as they can quickly eat into your compounding growth potential.

Learn more about options for investing.

The IRS allows you to begin taking distributions from your 401k without penalties at 59 ½ years old.

You may be asked to decide between contributing to your 401k in a traditional 401k or a Roth 401k.

Learn more about this on our traditional versus Roth 401k page.

403b Plans

403b plans are retirement plans offered by public school systems, churches, and other charitable entity tax-exempt organizations. You may be eligible for a 403b plan if you are:

  • An employee of a cooperative hospital services organization

  • An employee of a public school system involved in the day-to-day operations

  • An employee of a 501(c)(3) organization

  • A minister

Like 401k plans, 403b plans can offer both traditional and Roth account options.

403b plans tend to have more limited options within the plan than 401k plans. Under federal law, 403b plans can only offer annuities and mutual funds. They also tend to have higher administrative costs with lower overall returns. They may have less creditor protection as well.

One special perk of 403b plans is that when you’ve been with the same employer for 15+ years, they offer an additional catch-up contribution. As of 2024, that amount is generally $3,000 a year. If your plan offers the standard catch-up contribution for individuals 50 and up, the $3,000 is counted against it and does not stack. You can learn more on the IRS 403b catch-up contributions page.

The IRS allows you to begin taking distributions from your 403b without penalties at 59 ½ years old.

401k Versus 403b Plans

401k vs 403b retirement plans

In some rare cases, you may have access to both a 401k and a 403b. Check the long-term average returns for the options provided in both types of accounts and whether or not both offer Roth options. Each employer’s plan can differ, but generally the 401k will be the better way to go.

457 Plans

Non-governmental vs. governmental 457 retirement accounts

457 plans are offered by government and nonprofit organizations. Government 457b plans are very different from their non-government counterparts, so it’s important to know which one you have before deciding whether to utilize this option.

Government 457b plans are generally looked upon very favorably and are similar to 401k plans with private corporations. When you leave your employer, you will likely be able to roll them over to an IRA or other 401k, or leave them there. You may actually want to leave your money there, because a nice perk of 457 plans is that withdrawals made prior to age 59.5 are not subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you have already separated from service with the employer. 

Non-governmental 457 plans are tax-deferred compensation plans. This means that you contribute to the account and invest it, but the money is not yours until it is distributed. Money held in this account is safe from your creditors like a 401k plan, but it could be subject to your employer’s creditors, so in general is a less safe option. Especially in today’s healthcare environment where systems are declaring bankruptcy, consolidating, or shutting down, you want to be careful.

Additionally, for non-governmental 457 plans (both 457b and 457f plans exist), if you end up separating from your employer before retirement, you may be required to take your entire 457f balance as a single withdrawal, and the entire account balance can become taxable when you separate from service with your employer. Therefore, if you aren’t going to be with your employer for the long haul, a non-governmental 457 may not be the best investing option. It can also become a set of golden handcuffs chaining you to an ill-suited job contributing heavily to burnout because you don’t want to leave and deal with the tax issue. Make sure you check which type of non-governmental 457 plan is offered and what the vesting and distribution requirements are.

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

The TSP is similar to a 401k. It offers some of the lowest fees/expense rations out there, and is only available to federal government employees. There are several easy investing options within the TSP (G, F, C, S, and I funds), which despite being some of the lowest cost funds available, can still allow you to maintain a three-fund portfolio or modified three fund portfolio asset allocation strategy:

  • The C Fund (“Common Stock”) is a S&P 500 index fund

  • The I Fund (“International”)  is an international index fund

  • The G Fund (“Government Securities”) is a bond fund backed by the US Government

  • The S Fund (“Small Stock”) is a fund comprised mainly of mid caps

  • The F Fund (“Fixed Income”) is a total bond market index fund

They also offer several “Lifecycle” funds (L funds) which are similar to target date funds for those people who want a ‘lazier’ investment option. That said, one disadvantage to the TSP is that it has relatively fewer investment options than a regular taxable account, especially when it comes to some of the more unique asset classes. It’s really meant to keep it simple.

If you meet certain account balance and minimum contribution criteria, there is a “mutual fund window” option that can allow you to invest a portion of your TSP balance (< 25%) into available mutual funds in a separate investment account with a mutual fund window vendor. (There are additional fees to add this option. Learn more on the TSP website.)

There are also both Roth and non Roth options. Read this article about choosing between the Roth and traditional options in a retirement account - while it specifically references the Roth 401k, the principles apply here too. If you happen to have access to the TSP because you’re in the military, it’s worth taking advantage of the Roth option since your taxable income tends to be low in this situation due to favorable tax considerations and a generally lower income than once you move to the private sector.

You do receive a match for TSP, so you should try if at all possible contribute up to at least the amount that is eligible for the full match, as that is free money.

Like a governmental 457b plan, you can rollover a TSP to another eligible retirement plan when you leave the federal government if you’d like, or retain the money in the program. Many people elect to keep the TSP in case they decide to come back in the future (particularly if they aren’t fully vested into their matching contributions) or because of the low cost of the funds. Some people even roll future money into the TSP instead because of the low fees there compared to other plans.

Keep in mind that there are some limitations to the TSP, including not just what your investment options are, but also restrictions on how you withdraw or take distribution amounts.

Investing Strategies for Self-Employed and Side Gig Physicians

Many 1099 doctors assume they are out of luck when it comes to retirement accounts outside an IRA since they don’t have an employer-sponsored plan. Not only is this untrue, there are great advantages to self-employed retirement plans, including the ability to earn a tax deduction for “employer” contributions you make and put more into retirement accounts than you might be eligible for as an employee at a company.

There are several different options including:

  • Solo 401k



  • Defined benefit plan

  • Cash balance plan

Learn more about each of these plans on our guide to self-employed finances.

Two great options for self-employed physicians without any employees are the solo 401k and the defined benefit plan. The solo401k is a much simpler option, whereas the defined benefit plan is much more complex and requires the aid of a third party to administer, which can get expensive. Most people don’t consider the defined benefit plan or the cash balance plan until they have a 6 figure amount of self employed income, often multiple 6 figures.

A solo 401k is like an employer sponsored 401k, but since you are self employed, you can make contributions as both the employER and the employEE. EmployER contributions are tax-deferred, which helps lower your 1099 taxable income. Many solo 401k plans offer Roth options for your employEE contributions.

Which company you open and maintain your solo 401k with will dictate the investing options available within the plan, as well as the fees associated with those funds and for account management/maintenance.

A solo 401k plan runs like a regular 401k with the same max contribution limits, catch-up contribution allowances, and retirement age with withdrawals. There are, however, restrictions on how much of your earned self-employed income you can contribute in a given year.

Solo 401k plans

A defined benefit plan is more like a traditional pension used to be. Depending on your age, it offers much higher contribution limits than a solo 401k or IRA and can help provide a steady, reliable stream of income during your retirement.

Defined benefit plans have a large number of nuances and regulations and thus reporting and management requirements, which can make them expensive to maintain. They are not a good option for side gig income only or smaller side businesses, but can be great if you are a full time 1099 surgeon or anesthesiologist, if you are a partner in a private practice, or if you run your own business. For many physicians, the amount they may be able to contribute annually is in the six figures, depending on how the plan is written.

Defined benefit plans often calculate payouts on a “normal” retirement age of 65, though there may be the option to elect to not take benefits at that time. It’s important to work with a professional when setting up and running these types of plans, as they are highly complicated but also highly customizable. You want to make sure you work with someone who will allow you to figure out the maximum contributions and customizations to create the largest number of benefits in the long term.

Learn more on our self-employed finances primer.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

IRAs are another great retirement investing option, especially if you work for a small employer who doesn’t offer an employer sponsored plan. While the contribution limit is much lower ($7,000 for 2024) than for 401ks, it makes it easy to max it out every year, and you still have the power of compounding growth working to your advantage.

You can max out both an employer sponsored plan, such as a 401k, and a traditional or Roth IRA. Whether or not you will want to use the traditional IRA will depend on your income, as discussed below.

Roth IRAs, unlike Roth 401k accounts, have an income cap for contributions, although there is a way around it.

2024 Roth IRA contribution limits

Note that this takes into account your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), which isn’t the same as the gross income you’ll see on your 1099 or W-2. An accountant can help you figure out your MAGI.

Learn more about the Roth IRA for doctors.

If your MAGI is too high, consider the Backdoor Roth IRA discussed below.

You may wonder why you would consider a Backdoor Roth IRA instead of doing a traditional IRA. While you can contribute to the traditional IRA, there are several limitations for many physicians, which you should understand as you determine whether or not this is a good option for you. 

First, not all physicians will qualify for the deduction for an IRA contribution, particularly if they or their spouse are covered by an employer plan as well. Your deduction can be limited based on your MAGI, and limits are lower than most full time physicians make.

  • If you are covered by an employer plan

    • Single or head of household

      • $77,000 cap for full deduction

      • Partial deduction for $77,000 - $87,000

      • No deduction for $87,000 or more

    • Married filing jointly or qualified widow(er)

      • $123,000 cap for full deduction

      • Partial deduction for $123,000 - $143,000

      • No deduction for $143,000 or more

    • Married filing separately

      • < $10,000 for a partial deduction

      • No deduction for $10,000 or more

  • If you are not covered by an employer plan

    • Single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)

      • Full amount is deductible

    • Married filing jointly or separately with a spouse who is not covered by a plan at work

      • Full amount is deductible

    • Married filing jointly with a spouse who is covered by a plan at work

      • $230,000 cap for full deduction

      • Partial deduction for $230,000 - $240,000

      • No deduction for $240,000 or more

    • Married filing separately with a spouse who is covered by a plan at work

      • < $10,000 for a partial deduction

      • No deduction for $10,000 or more

So what is the advantage of contributing to an IRA if you can’t deduct the contribution? With a nondeductible IRA, while you don't get to claim an immediate tax deduction, your money does grow tax-deferred until you withdraw money (still subject to required minimum distributions). That does give you an additional advantage over a regular taxable account. However, the record keeping is complicated, as it remains your responsibility to track and claim nondeductible contributions via several forms. For this reason, most physicians who don’t encounter a pro rata rule issue with the backdoor Roth will elect to do the backdoor Roth over a traditional IRA.

A financial planner or accountant can help you decide the best path forward if you have multiple factors to consider.

Most brokerage firms offer IRA accounts for little to no fees with numerous investing options within the account. Check out different options like Vanguard or Fidelity. You can quickly open and fund an account. Consider setting up a monthly automated ACH contribution from your checking account if you aren’t worried about MAGI limits, or make one lump sum contribution annually.

Again, make sure you invest your contributions into securities such as mutual funds or index funds instead of letting your contributions sit in the holding account, which won’t earn you nearly as much.

The set retirement age for IRA withdrawals without penalties is 73 as of 2024.

Depending on what state you live in, your IRA may or may not have the same protection against creditors as your 401k, so you should check this as well.

Roth Tax Hacks for High-Income Earners

Many high-income earners, especially younger ones with the potential for a lot of years of tax free growth or ones with a complex tax strategy plan where they anticipate being in a high tax bracket even in retirement, love investing at least a portion into Roth accounts. There are a few completely legal tax loopholes for doctors looking to invest more into Roth than they can with Roth IRA income limits and 401k contribution limits.

Backdoor Roth IRA

The Backdoor Roth IRA is a tax loophole that legally allows high-income earners to contribute to a Roth IRA once they’ve surpassed the income limit for a regular Roth IRA by contributing to a traditional IRA and then moving  it over to a Roth IRA.

It’s easy to do and can be completed in a few days, depending on how long it takes funds to hit your traditional IRA from your bank account.

The catch: The IRS has a Pro-Rata rule which looks at the balances of pre-tax and post-tax dollars across all your IRA balances. If you have any pre-tax funds in an IRA, such as a SEP IRA, you have to calculate what percentage of your account is pre-tax versus post-tax and then you will be taxed again based on that percentage! This can quickly reduce the benefit of doing the Backdoor Roth IRA, which is why we recommend the solo 401k above for side gig and self-employed doctors versus the SEP IRA.

If you don’t have any pre-tax IRA investments, a Backdoor Roth IRA can be a great addition to your overall investing strategy. Just make sure you complete the annual tax form with your 1040 to keep the IRS happy.

Learn more about the Backdoor Roth IRA.

Mega Backdoor Roth

The Mega Backdoor Roth (MBR) is a powerhouse for physicians who are looking to leverage Roth investing as part of their tax strategy. It requires a 401k plan that has specific features:

  • Ability to make after-tax contributions

  • Allows in-service distributions or withdrawals (or in-service rollovers)

Some employers now offer this option, so you should check and see if yours is eligible. 

If you have a solo 401k and enough self-employed income to cap out your employee contribution limit, you may be able to do a Mega Backdoor Roth, so check your specific plan’s features, or if you’re just starting your plan and think you’ll want to utilize the MBR, talk to your plan administrator about incorporating this feature.

With the Mega Backdoor Roth, you make after-tax contributions (not the same as Roth contributions) after capping out your employer contribution limit for the year, then transfer the after-tax contributions to a Roth IRA or Roth 401k. This can allow you to add tens of thousands of Roth funds to a 401k plan a year.

The HSA: The Stealth Retirement Account

If you have a qualified high-deductible health plan (HDHP), a health savings account (HSA) can be a great investing hack for retirement that many high income earners take advantage of. You can invest pre-tax funds like a traditional 401k or IRA, but then the growth and withdrawals are also tax-free for qualified medical expenses, like a Roth 401k or IRA. This triple-tax advantage makes the HSA an investing powerhouse.

HSA cheat sheet

Like a 401k or IRA, you can invest your contributions in the stock market, letting compound growth build your account balance over the years. 

You can withdraw funds for qualified purchases at any time, even decades later, so many physicians keep record and proof of medical expenses they pay out of pocket over the years, then withdraw them in retirement for tax-free income. Unless you have higher medical bills, this strategy can really turn out to be beneficial. 

The annual contribution limits in 2024 for a HSA are $4,150 for a self-only plan or $8,300 for family coverage. There is no income limit to contribute.

If you are on an employer sponsored healthcare program, you can have your HSA contributions automatically withdrawn from your paycheck like a 401k contribution, making it easy to set it and forget it for the year.

Once you reach the age of 65, you can withdraw money for any use without penalty, though you will have to pay taxes on non-qualified withdrawals, similar to a traditional IRA or 401k, but without RMDs.

Depending on what state you live in, your HSA may or may not have the same protection against creditors as your 401k.

Learn more about health savings accounts.

What to Do With Old Retirement Accounts

If you have an old employer sponsored plan you can no longer contribute to, you have the option to roll it over. This can be done into an IRA or a new 401k.

If you change employers, you can rollover your 401k from your previous employer to your new employer, assuming that your plan allows for rollovers. The HR department at your new job should be able to help guide you through the process. They may send you a check to turn around and send to the new account, but make sure you do not distribute the funds directly to yourself, as this can cause a nightmare with taxes and penalties. There is usually a time limit on how long you have to rollover the funds to the new account, so make sure you understand the rules with HR before proceeding.

If you switched from W-2 work to being a contractor, you can open a solo 401k plan and roll your plan in, if they allow rollovers. You may only be able to roll the traditional portion in, depending on your specific plan features (even if it offers a Roth component) so double check.

Another option is to roll your old 401k plan into an IRA. If you plan on doing a Backdoor Roth IRA, we recommend against this option as this will create pre-tax dollars in an IRA, which will subject you to taxes under the Pro-Rata rule. Rolling just the post-tax Roth portion into an IRA won’t count against you for a Backdoor Roth IRA, but any pre-tax traditional components will.

Depending on what state you live in, this can also reduce your asset protection against creditors as IRAs don’t always have the same protections 401k plans have.

You can always leave your old retirement account where it’s at. Keep track of where it is and how much you have in it, and be sure to include it in your asset allocation.

Learn more about asset allocation on our investing 101 basics for physicians guide.

If you’re on the fence about which option to choose, assess the different investment options within the different accounts, including their fees and expense ratios. If you have the option of lower cost funds by rolling it out, it can be worth the extra step of the process.


We hope the guide above helps you navigate all the different tax-advantaged retirement account options to consider. Remember, you can have more than one!

As your income increases and you shed yourself of student loan payments, lifestyle creep, mortgage payments, etc., look for ways to increase your retirement savings. We hear so many physicians in our community who are exhausted and want to retire, but don’t have the financial resources to do so. Meanwhile, we seldom hear of a physician who regrets saving too much.

Already on your way to saving for retirement but unsure how to optimize your retirement planning? Reach out to one of our financial advisors for physicians for help building a comprehensive financial plan to guide your retirement investing.

If you’ve already capped out your maximum contributions to eligible retirement plans, check out our investing primer for physicians to learn about taxable accounts. You can also check out our real estate investing primer for doctors if you want to increase your income streams in retirement and truly diversify your assets.

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