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I understand that the minimum age for penalty-free-withdrawls from these accounts is 59 1/2. Or is there any dispensation for early retirees? Do I need to start focusing more on my taxable account to make it from 53 to 59?

If you were willing to wait until Jan 2 of the year you turn 55 to retire from the company where you have a 401(k), you can take penalty-free withdrawals from your 401(k), rather than having to wait until 59 1/2.

IRAs and 401(k)s can also be accessed using SEPP (Substantially Equal Periodic Payments), aka 72(t) withdrawals. These must be continued for a minimum of 5 years or until you turn 59 1/2, whichever is longer.

However, having investments in a taxable account will allow you to structure your income to minimize your taxes more effectively, so starting to contribute more to taxable accounts would also be a good idea, even if you end up using one of the exceptions.

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