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When Can You Access Retirement Funds?

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Quick Answer

While most retirement funds can be accessed without an early withdrawal penalty at age 59 1/2, specific types of retirement funds may be accessible earlier under certain circumstances, as U.S. News & World Report explains. Early 401(k) withdrawals are permitted at 55 in the event of early retirement.

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While most retirement funds can be tapped before age 59 1/2, doing so often results in substantial tax penalties, according to U.S. News & World Report. Early withdrawal from retirement funds such as IRAs is allowable without tax penalties if the withdrawals are used for college costs, a first home purchase, medical costs or health insurance. While withdrawals may be made without penalty starting at age 59 1/2, they are not mandatory until age 70 1/2.

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