Most retirement accounts impose tax penalties or fees for withdrawals before age 59, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But sometimes, for financial reasons, you may wonder if you can withdraw funds from your early retirement account. The IRS notes that in some cases, withdrawals without penalty are possible before age 59. This means that you can use your retirement account to fund certain qualifying expenses without penalties, such as B. First-time home purchase and certain health care or education expenses. The rules vary depending on the type of retirement account. Therefore, early withdrawal criteria are examined for three of the most popular accounts: 401 (k) accounts, Roth retirement accounts (IRAs), and traditional IRAs.


Roth IRAs differ from traditional IRAs in a very important way: With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on your contributions upfront, not when you make distributions, according to the IRS. A great advantage of this is that since you have already paid taxes on your contributions, you can withdraw those deposited funds at any time without penalty.

However, it’s important to note that this benefit only applies to your contributions (it’s the money you put into the account). Early withdrawals of any earnings or gains (such as interest, dividends, or stock profits) are subject to restrictions. The IRS says you will receive a 10% penalty for any early withdrawal of investment income.

But there are also ways to avoid the early withdrawal penalty. Certain eligible expenses, such as B. Fees for higher education, purchase of a primary residence, and health care costs can be deducted from contributions or income at any time without penalty.


Most traditional IRA withdrawals made before age 59 will be penalized with a 10% penalty, with a few important exceptions. According to the IRS, some of the expenses qualify without an early withdrawal penalty:

  • Up to $10,000 for first-time buyers.
  • Health insurance costs in the event of unemployment.
  • Medical expenses exceeding 10% of your adjusted gross income.
  • Costs of a qualified college.
  • Death or total disability of the plan member.

After the age of 59 and a half, you can withdraw money from your IRA at any time without penalty. Be aware, however, that your payment will be taxed as income, the IRS says.


According to the IRS, you generally cannot withdraw funds from a 401 (k) plan until you are 59. There are a few exceptions, according to the IRS, including plan member’s disability and certain medical expenses. These qualifying situations are exempt from the 10 percent penalty tax.

However, the IRS notes that some plans may offer specific hardship distributions for specific situations. If offered by your plan, these hardship distributions allow early withdrawal of funds that are subject to a 10 percent penalty and state and federal taxes. These hardship distributions should be used to meet an “immediate and high” financial need as defined by the IRS and should not exceed the costs necessary to meet the obligations. Eligible hardship scenarios according to the IRS include:

Funeral expenses for plan members or immediate family members.

Health expenses of the employee, his relatives, or members of his immediate family.

Certain costs are necessary to repair a principal residence or to prevent that principal residence from being evacuated or seized.

Certain education or training costs for the employee, his relatives, or immediate family.

Depending on the plan, additional costs for difficulties may be covered. Contact your plan provider for more information on qualifying hardship withdrawals from your 401 (k) or IRA plans.