FAQs during COVID-19 and increased market volatility

COVID-19 and increased market volatility have led to many new questions from our clients. We care about how this is impacting you—and how we can help. We will continue to be here to provide up-to-date information and answers for what's on your mind.

Visit the COVID-19 Resource Center for Investor Center updates, market insights, and to watch a weekly webinar. Last updated October 28, 2020.

Required minimum distributions (RMDs)

  • How do I complete a rollover contribution for my 2020 RMD?

    You may be eligible to make a 60-day rollover contribution for your 2020 RMD in 3 quick ways without ever leaving the safety of your home .

    To make a rollover deposit by check via mail:

    1. Mobile check deposit: Simply snap a photo of your contribution check and deposit in seconds through the Fidelity mobile app. Be sure to:
      • Make your check payable to: Fidelity Investments
      • On the memo line of your check write: "2020 RMD Rollover"
    2. Transfer money from your non-retirement Fidelity Brokerage Account or a bank account on file by calling Fidelity at 800-343-3548.

    You may also make a rollover deposit by check via US mail. Follow the check writing instructions listed above and mail your check to: Fidelity Investments, PO Box 770001, Cincinnati, OH 45277-0003.

    Please note that 60-day rollovers are generally limited to one per 12 month period. Please consult your tax advisor for guidance around your specific situation.

  • I would like convert to a Roth IRA; do I need to take my 2020 required minimum distribution (RMD) first?

    Under the CARES Act, required minimum distributions (RMDs) taken by an individual are temporarily waived for the 2020 calendar year. Accordingly, there is no 2020 RMD to satisfy.

  • Do I still have to take my required minimum distribution (RMD) for 2020?

    The CARES act temporarily waives required minimum distributions (RMDs) for all types of retirement plans (including IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, and inherited IRA plans) for calendar year 2020. This includes the first RMD, which individuals may have delayed from 2019 until April 1, 2020.

  • How do I stop my automatic required minimum distribution (RMD)?

    It only takes a few minutes to stop the automatic withdrawal for your 2020 required minimum distribution (RMD). First, go to our automatic withdrawals page and select the account you’d like to edit, then change the status from "active" to "inactive." Save your changes and keep your confirmation number for future reference. Please note, this will deactivate all future automatic withdrawals from your retirement account.

    If you would like to restart your automatic withdrawal plan for 2021, you will need to set up a new automatic withdrawal plan. To get started, visit automatic withdrawals. Select "2021" as the year for your automatic RMD withdrawals to begin.

    If you have a Fidelity self-employed 401(k) or profit sharing retirement plan and you would like to cancel your automatic withdrawal, please call a representative at 800-972-2155.

  • I already took my required minimum distribution (RMD)-can I put it back?

    Generally required minimum distributions ("RMDs") are not eligible for rollover. The CARES Act waived RMDs for 2020 for all types of retirement plans including IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, and inherited IRA plans. If you have taken a distribution in 2020 that would have been an RMD if not for the CARES Act, the IRS provided additional guidance recently that allows you to repay this distribution back to the IRA it was withdrawn from. This guidance applies to both IRA owners and IRA beneficiaries. The repayment can occur more than 60 days after the original distribution date provided it is made no later than August 31, 2020. The repayment will be treated as a rollover, except that neither the "1 rollover per year rule" nor the limitation on non-spousal IRA beneficiary rollovers will apply. This guidance allows an IRA owner or IRA beneficiary to repay a 2020 RMD to the distributing IRA by August 31, 2020.

    If you have questions about how this new IRS guidance applies to your specific situation, please consult your tax advisor.

CARES Act and COVID-19 Bills

  • What is the CARES Act?

    On March 27, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the third in a series of economic relief bills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The more than $2 trillion package seeks to address financial pressures facing individuals, businesses, and state and local governments due to the pandemic. The law will also provide emergency funding for hospitals, testing, and vaccine development. Find out more about the stimulus and what the CARES Act may mean for you.

  • Are there any stipulations or requirements for how I use my CARES Act money?

    There are no stipulations on how you spend your CARES Act payment. You may use any money you receive however you choose.

  • Can I take a withdrawal from my IRA as I was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

    You are always able to take money from your IRA. Some withdrawals may be taxable and some may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty. If you are over age 59½, you aren't subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

    The CARES Act established some special tax rules for qualifying coronavirus distributions taken in 2020. They must be limited to $100,000 for each individual and would not be subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty for those under 59½. In addition, the taxes due on the distribution can be spread over 3 years.

    In addition to the CARES Act's original eligibility rules for taking a coronavirus distribution, the IRS recently expanded the definition of "qualified individual" and now takes into consideration adverse financial impacts on the spouse or members of the individual's household (someone who shares the individual's principal residence) caused by COVID-19. The CARES Act defines a qualified individual as, an individual, who themselves, or their spouse, or a dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19, or who experiences adverse financial consequences from COVID-19 due to:

    • Being quarantined, furloughed, or laid off
    • Being unable to work due to lack of childcare
    • Closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by you
    • Having a reduction in pay (or self-employment income) or work hours
    • Having a job offer rescinded or start date for a job delayed

    Recently the IRS extended the definition of a qualified individual to include an individual's spouse or member of the individual's household (someone who shares the individual's principal residence) if they experience one of the adverse financial consequences.

    The qualifying distribution may be repaid to an eligible retirement plan over 3 years.

  • How does the CARES Act impact qualified and non-qualified deferred annuities?

    Like IRAs, the CARES Act temporarily waives required minimum distributions (RMDs) for qualified deferred annuities. This includes the first RMD, which individuals may have delayed from 2019 until April 1, 2020. The CARES Act does not apply to non-qualified deferred annuities.

  • How does the CARES Act impact student loan payments?

    The CARES Act suspends payments on federal student loans for 6 months, through September 30, 2020. The act waives interest on the loans for 6 months as well. For borrowers participating in a loan forgiveness program, the missed months of payments will be recorded as if the borrower had made the payments. Borrowers who are unsure if their loans qualify should contact their loan servicer. Many student loan servicers are putting recurring payments on hold, so borrowers should contact their loan servicer for details on how payments are impacted.

Health savings accounts (HSA)

  • Can I use my health savings account (HSA) to pay insurance premiums if I lose my job?

    You can use your health savings account (HSA) to pay health insurance premiums if you're currently collecting federal or state unemployment benefits, or to pay premiums for COBRA health insurance that you receive because your job status changed.

  • What changes did the CARES Act make to the list of eligible expenses for health savings account (HSA) spending?

    The list of eligible expenses for health savings account (HSA) spending has been permanently expanded to include over-the-counter medications, including antacids, pain relievers, and treatments for cold, flu, and allergy symptoms (without a prescription), and menstrual care products.

  • What COVID 19-related expenses are covered through my health savings account (HSA)-eligible health plan?

    Testing: The recent COVID-19 relief legislation requires that diagnostic testing of COVID-19 be covered at no cost to participants enrolled in health savings account (HSA)-eligible health plans. Diagnostic testing coverage will be available until the public health emergency related to COVID-19 has passed. The legislation also requires that coronavirus preventive services and vaccines be covered without co-payment. Coverage for the vaccine will be available within 15 business days after being recommended by the government.

    Treatment: Guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also allows HSA-eligible health plans to cover treatment for COVID-19 before the deductible is met. This guidance allows full coverage for treatment, but does not require it. Check with your health insurance provider for details on your coverage.

Workplace savings plans (such as 401(k), 403(b), etc.)

  • What is the difference between a workplace savings plan loan vs. a withdrawal?

    Loans and withdrawals from workplace savings plans (such as 401(k), 403(b), etc) are different ways to take money out of your plan. A loan lets you borrow money from your retirement savings and pay it back to yourself over time, with interest—the loan payments and interest go back into your account. A withdrawal permanently removes money from your retirement savings, and you'll have to pay extra taxes and possible penalties. If your plan allows, you might be able to take money out of your retirement savings.

    If your retirement plan is with Fidelity, log in to NetBenefits® to view your options.

  • Can I take a withdrawal from my workplace savings plan due to COVID-19?

    Due to the recent CARES Act, you may be eligible to request a coronavirus distribution of up to $100,000 from January 1, 2020 through December 30, 2020 from your IRA and workplace savings plan (such as a 401(k), 403(b), etc). You may spread the income tax on your distribution over three years. The distribution will be exempt from the 10% early withdrawal penalty and you may repay it within 3 years. Your plan may also have other withdrawal options.

    In addition to the CARES Act's original eligibility rules for taking a coronavirus distribution, the IRS recently expanded the definition of "qualified individual" and now takes into consideration adverse financial impacts on the spouse or members of the individual's household (someone who shares the individual's principal residence) caused by COVID-19. The CARES Act defines a qualified individual as, an individual, who themselves, or their spouse, or a dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19, or who experiences adverse financial consequences from COVID-19 due to:

    • Being quarantined, furloughed, or laid off
    • Being unable to work due to lack of childcare
    • Closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by you
    • Having a reduction in pay (or self-employment income) or work hours
    • Having a job offer rescinded or start date for a job delayed

    Recently the IRS extended the definition of a qualified individual to include an individual's spouse or member of the individual's household (someone who shares the individual's principal residence) if they experience one of the adverse financial consequences.

    If your workplace savings plan is with Fidelity, log in to NetBenefits® to view your options.

  • Can I take a loan from my workplace savings plan due to COVID-19?

    If your plan allows, you might be able to borrow from your workplace savings plan (such as 401(k), 403(b), etc). There might be limits based on regulations and your plan's rules.

    If your retirement plan is with Fidelity, log in to NetBenefits® to view your options.

Cash, savings, and investments

  • I live in a foreign country where mail delivery has been suspended. How can I get my account statements and other important documents?

    Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, mail service to certain international jurisdictions1 has been temporarily suspended, and some important documents2 such as account statements, trade confirmations, tax forms and prospectuses aren’t being delivered as they normally would.

    To ensure you receive your documents, Fidelity recommends that all customers sign up for electronic delivery. Change your delivery preferences 

    You may receive an email or telephone call from Fidelity to encourage electronic delivery, and we may attempt to deliver certain documents electronically in accordance with confidentiality requirements. If you live in an impacted country and either (1) you don't consent to electronic delivery or (2) we can't deliver the impacted mailings electronically, we'll temporarily hold these items and will take reasonable steps to physically mail them within 7 days of mail service resuming in your country.

    Mail delays may also impact your ability to receive physical checks. To avoid waiting for delivery services to resume, consider adding a feature such as Money Line or Bank Wire to your account.

  • If I have cash, is now a good time to invest?

    History shows us the stock market has not only recovered from downturns but spends much more time in expansion phases of the market than in contraction.

    Volatile markets can present investment opportunities for long-term investors. Historically, because stocks have typically experienced volatility heading into and during recessions, investors have had opportunities to acquire stocks at discounts to their previous valuations. Over the following years, when stocks have recovered from their recession levels, they have typically delivered strong returns. Since 1950, on average, recessions last about 9 months and the markets often make up some losses during the recessionary period. Remember that historically investors who stay invested during a recession and through a recovery have been rewarded.

    Whether you are investing on your own or through Fidelity's professionally managed account solutions, we can help you make sense of the markets. For additional resources, read our latest thought leadership and watch our recurring webcast series that is meant to provide insights, analysis and answers to the questions you have now. If you are interested in our professionally managed solutions, visit Fidelity Managed Accounts

  • I'm wondering what I should do with my cash. What should I consider?

    As you think about whether to stay in cash or to invest, think about the role cash plays in your overall financial plan. How much do you need to pay for your expenses, both planned and unexpected? Holding significant amounts of cash may provide reassurance amid market volatility, but leaving overly large amounts of cash uninvested in your portfolio can be a drawback over the long term.

    To learn more, read our article about understanding how to manage your cash.

  • How do I stop automatic contributions to my retirement account?

    You can change or delete an automatic contribution at any time. First, visit our automatic transfers and investments page, then select the retirement account you'd like to edit and save your changes.

    To get started, visit automatic transfers and investmentsLog In Required.

  • My account balance has dropped. Is there anything I can do, such as freeze my account?

    The balance in an account that includes investments, such as a retirement account or brokerage account, will fluctuate in volatile markets. There are generally 3 things you can do:

    1. Adjust the investments within your account (for example, changing the risk level by shifting from stocks to bonds),
    2. Stay the course and leave the investments as-is, or,
    3. Sell your investments and convert to cash, effectively freezing your balance. But that may mean you are locking in losses. If you are investing for the long term, the best course may be to do nothing so you can capture any future rebound. If you are unsure, it’s a good time to meet with a financial professional.
  • Should I change anything in my portfolio?
    Your own situation is unique. While we are currently experiencing significant ongoing volatility, it's important to remember that it's a part of investing. Check to see whether your asset mix may have veered off course due to the recent market pullback. If so, consider rebalancing to your target mix. Rebalancing into investments that have lost value during a down market means investors may invest at a lower price.
  • Should people who are retired or very close to retirement do anything special with their investments?

    For clients who are retired or near retirement with a diversified investment plan, staying partially or fully invested (and not moving to cash) is often the right decision, especially for those planning to enjoy a healthy and long retirement which could last 20 to 30+ years.

    Consider working with a financial professional who can help you create a disciplined investment and income plan that suits your individual goals, risk tolerance, and life situation.

  • Should I stop contributing to my retirement accounts?

    Even when the stock market ride gets bumpy, Fidelity reminds long-term investors to stick to their plan—to maintain a well-diversified portfolio (which reflects an asset mix appropriate for your financial circumstances) and continue to save and to invest those additional savings.

    Consider working with a financial professional who can help you create a disciplined investment plan that suits your individual goals, risk tolerance, and life situation.

  • How does Fidelity manage its money market funds?

    Fidelity manages its money market funds conservatively. All Fidelity money market funds have ample liquidity and continue to provide safety and security for our customers. Our funds invest in high-quality money market securities and we are vigilant in keeping our money market funds safe. We also regularly stress test our money market funds, and we’re confident they can withstand significant market volatility. Stress testing is an ongoing process which we review and update and has proved to be a valuable risk management tool in previous volatile markets. Our money market mutual funds have ample liquidity and investors have access to their funds when they want. The daily and weekly liquidity of each Fidelity money market mutual fund is published daily on our website.

    Read Understanding money market funds to learn more.

Personal finance and estate planning

  • How can I access legal and other resources to help protect my family in case I get sick?

    Fidelity offers access to tools and resources that can help with your estate planning needs, such as creating a will, choosing a health care proxy, or establishing a power of attorney. You can get started by using the Fidelity Estate Planner®, our free online service for Fidelity customers that helps guide you through the estate planning process and, if needed, connect you with an attorney. Or, for simple family situations (with less than $2 million in assets), another option you may want to consider is LegalZoom®, where Fidelity customers can save on online estate planning services.

  • Should I consider refinancing my student loans to lower monthly payments?

    Refinancing involves taking out a private loan to pay off all or a portion of your student loans, typically at a lower interest rate (if you qualify), which could result in significant savings. It also lets you extend the term from, say, 10 to 20 years. Keep in mind, though, you could end up paying more over a longer term. And, your new private loan disqualifies you from federal benefits such as a broad choice of repayment plans. Our student debt tool can help you explore options to pay off your debt. If you decide refinancing fits your situation, an option that lets you easily compare rates from multiple lenders is Credible, through which Fidelity customers can save on refinancing student loans.

  • What resources are available to help my family deal with changes to the college admissions process?

    One useful resource to consider is Collegewise, including its COVID-19 Resource Center, where you'll find an up-to-date listing of all closed campuses, affected campus visit programs, and schools extending their deposit deadlines, as well as updates on entrance exam testing dates, and other useful information. Fidelity customers can save on services from Collegewise, including personal support from professional college admissions counselors.

  • What resources can I use to help protect myself and my loved ones from COVID-19 scams?

    The Federal Trade Commission and IRS have reported a wide range of financial fraud schemes related to COVID-19. To help protect yourself, you may want to consider an online account monitoring service. One option available is EverSafe, which sends suspicious-activity alerts for unusual withdrawals, missing deposits, odd charges, and changes in spending patterns. This may be particularly useful if you're caring for elders, as older adults may be prime targets for financial fraud. Another option to consider is IDnotifyTM from Experian, which offers monitoring services to help protect you from identity theft. Fidelity customers can save on services from EverSafe and IDnotify.