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<<Isn't there also something about being able to withdraw money from a former employer's plan after age 55 without incurring the 10% pre-59 1/2 penalty?
If yes, is this flexibility lost if the funds go into a conduit IRA?>>

Yep....That's definitely another consideration. You can withdraw from a qualified retirement plan after age 55 (provided you're no longer working for that employer in most cases) and not be subjected to the 10% early withdrawal excise tax. Put the money in an IRA, and you're subject to IRA rules. The magic age in the latter is 59 1/2.

Good point!

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