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Retirement Planning

How do distributions from my traditional individual retirement account work?

You work hard, save money, and plan ahead for retirement. So if you're wondering when you can take distributions from your IRA, and how distributions work, we have some information that may help.
Like many Americans, you work hard and save as much as you can to help financially plan for retirement. As such, you may have your money in a variety of different retirement savings accounts so when you retire, you'll have the needed funds to support your new lifestyle.

One of the most common retirement savings vehicles is the traditional individual retirement account (IRA). A withdrawal of cash or securities from an IRA (for retirement income or for other purposes) is what's referred to as a distribution. Take note: Distribution rules and penalties for traditional IRAs will differ from Roth IRAs.

Distributions in the traditional IRA

You can withdraw money from your traditional IRA just about any time. However, withdrawals that are made before age 59 ½ may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty.1 It's important to note that there are certain circumstances under which you may be able to take penalty-free withdrawals prior to age 59½. 

They may include:

  • Qualified first-time homebuyers (up to $10,000)
  • A death or permanent disability
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses (within guidelines)
  • Health insurance (if unemployed)
  • Qualified higher education expenses

Between the ages of 59½ and 73, distributions from your traditional IRA may be withdrawn without penalty. However, once you reach age 73, you must begin making minimum withdrawals, also known as required minimum distributions (RMDs). These RMDs are considered mandatory, and may result in severe penalties if not taken.2

Knowing how much you may be required to withdraw from your traditional IRA is an important concern when it comes to retirement planning. Try using's online RMD calculator to get a better idea of what you might be looking at.

Take note: Distributions from a traditional IRA are considered taxable income.

To find out how distributions from your traditional IRA may affect your individual retirement income planning, be sure to speak with your financial professional.





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