Dear Harry:

My husband's problem is a little different from any I've seen. He lost his job after 42 years with a law firm that just broke up. He did not get $1 of severance pay or sick-time benefits. He is now collecting unemployment compensation and Social Security. I'm sure you're aware of how tough the job market is for someone who is 70. He'll be 70 1/2 in March and we'll be required to take a minimum distribution from his 401(k) plan. We'd like to leave the 401(k) alone for now because I'm still working. Is that possible? Will we still be able to collect unemployment comp if he starts the 401(k) withdrawals? Unfortunately, we still have a mortgage so he's looking hard for a job.

What Harry says: Older folks have always had a tough time getting a job. Age discrimination has been around forever, and it still exists even with laws designed to prevent it. As long as he continues his job search, he'll be able to collect up to the limits recently increased by Congress. You can delay the first distribution from the 401(k) until 2011. However, that will mean you have to take both the required minimum for 2010 and 2011 in 2011. My vote is to take the first distribution in 2010 because of the possibility of higher tax rates in 2011.

You can keep your minimums at the lowest possible level by taking them over your joint life expectancy.

Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-GIVE LIFE.