Normally a participant in an individual account type of retirement plan must begin taking annual distributions when he or she reaches age 70 ½. Following the decimation of the financial markets last fall, a concern arose that people would have to liquidate investments at depressed prices to pay their 2009 distributions. In December, 2008, Congress passed and the President signed the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008. Under the Act, the minimum required distribution amount does not have to be distributed in 2009 in these types of plans, which include IRAs. The 2009 required distribution may also be suspended where a participant is taking distributions over a fixed period. In Notice 2009-9, the IRS said that if someone had elected distributions over five years, he or she can skip the 2009 distribution and effectively receive the distribution over six rather than five years.
Finally, if someone turned 70 ½ during 2008 and elected to defer taking his or her first distribution until April 1, 2009, this distribution must still have been made. The suspension does not apply to it, because it is considered to be a 2008 distribution.