I was recently laid off from a job in which I was given a retirement plan, where I had a temporary contract of 6 months. I’m only 22 and this is my first job since I graduated college, so I’m not that interested in holding onto a 1000 dollar retirement plan from a half year commitment. I recently received a letter indicating that the plan was less than the minimum balance requirement for my job’s plan, and I am no longer subject to ‘automatic distribution.’ However I am still eligible for ‘full distribution.’ I have no idea what any of this means, and the retirement plan’s website doesn’t help explain. Is this parlance universal for retirement plans, or am I going to have to call up the overseeing organization to find out what the heck they mean?

That means that you cannot have it set up to get monthly payments or anything. They would likely just send you a check after deducting withholding. That is what our 401(k) plan does if someone no longer employed has a balance of $5000 or less.

Any of it (including withholding) that you do not roll over into an IRA or other suitable retirement account within 60 days would be taxed, plus 10% penalty.