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I have been withdrawing from my IRA for a number of years without paying the penalty, before reaching 59 1/2. However, I do have a number of different IRA's, so it might be different for you. It has to be done on a five year plan or when you reach 59 1/2 whichever is longer. I use my largest one and it is recalculated each year, actually giving me more money as the portfolio has grown. I do it at the end of January each year and put the money away and use it as I need it. Talk to your accountant, there are several ways to calculate the amount and they each give quite a different amount. I think you would only be locked in for 5 years.
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