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If this will make things any clearer:

TIAA-CREF allows cash withdrawals from CREF accounts (and certain TIAA accounts), subject to IRS and employer restrictions. Information is at

Separately from any cash withdrawal, it's possible to withdraw up to 10% of whatever is being annuitized as a "retirement transition benefit."

There is also a provision for taking "systematic withdrawals" instead of, or prior to, annuitizing the account. The web site has information about both of these as well as about taking only minimum distributions.
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