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Greetings, W401k, and welcome. You wrote:

<<I believe the age is actually 55, not 52. You also have to be sure that you're Plan allows for periodic withdrawals. Most 401(k) Plans only allow one time lump sum distributions. You should check with you're Human Resources Department and ask them. Or ask for a copy of the Plan document and check the withdrawal provisions to see if periodic withdrawals are allowed in yo're 401(k). If not, roll the money over into an IRA and then withdraw as needed. I'm pretty sure you will be subject to the 10% penalty if you withdraw before age 59 1/2. >>

In this case the writer was referring to withdrawals based on the rules under Section 72(t), IRC. You may start those at any age and avoid the early withdrawal penalty provided one of the three approved methods is used and you continue for the longer of five years or the attainment of age 59 1/2. The age 55 rule to which you refer is the magic age to take retirement plan money free of penalty. In this case, the writer wants to retire at age 52, so the Section 72(t) rules come into play.

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