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Greetings, Spunkee37, and welcome. You asked:

<<I was under the impression that the age of withdrawing money from a IRA or from a 401k without penalty are different in that the former is 59-1/2 while the latter is 55. In the IRA you can withdraw earlier by taking essentially equal amounts using some kind of formula; don't know if that holds true also for the 401k, but my understanding is that if you retire at 55, you can withdraw all or any portion of your money without penalty and without adhering to any schedule. Comments?>>

Your understanding is essentially correct. To take a penalty-free distribution from a qualified retirement plan like a 401k you must be employed by and separate from the plan sponsor in the year you attain age 55. Move the money to an IRA, though, and you will be subject to IRA rules. The IRA age for a penalty-free withdrawal is age 59 1/2 unless you take payments under the "substantially equal periodic payment" rules.

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