I work for a university, and I have a 403(b) with TIAA-CREF. But TIAA-CREF says I cannot transfer money to another provider. Can they prevent me from transferring my money to a better investment?
It depends. The IRS does permit the transfer of assets between 403(b) providers; however, employers and 403(b) providers are not required to allow such transfers.
Generally, the transfer is permitted only if the new 403(b) account (to which the assets are being transferred) is subject to the same (or stricter) distribution rules that apply to the 403(b) account from which the assets are being transferred. For this reason, and other reasons of their own, some employers and 403(b) providers may restrict transfers to other 403(b) providers. It may be in your best interest to contact TIAA-CREF again and ask that they give you a specific reason for not allowing the transfer. You may refer them to IRS Revenue Ruling 90-24, which is the IRS-issued document that allows you to transfers assets between 403b accounts, provided there are no transfer restrictions by your employer or the 403(b) plan provider.
This question was answered by Denise Appleby