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Greeings, Rob, and welcome. You asked:

<<Assuming I maintain my 401K account after retirement, can I make periodic withdrawals and avoid early withdrawal tax penalties?>>

No, you cannot. To take money penalty-free from a 401k plan, you must reach age 55 in the year you leave the employer who sponsors that plan. You will be age 53. Therefore, you cannot take money penalty-free from the 401k until you reach age 59 1/2. Thus, you must use SEPP or pay the piper.

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