Once you reach age 59½ you can withdraw funds from your IRA without penalty. However, you can avoid an early withdrawal penalty if you meet certain criteria.
If you lost your job and collected 12 continuous weeks of unemployment compensation, you can use funds from an IRA to pay health insurance premiums. There is no penalty if the funds are used for higher-education expenses, such as college tuition for yourself or immediate family. To purchase or build your first home, individuals may withdraw up to $10,000 or up to $20,000 as a couple penalty free. There is also an exception if the money goes towards unreimbursed medical expenses greater than 10% of your adjusted gross income. Individuals would also be exempt from the penalty if they become disabled before age 59½.