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The IRAs should cover us for the 18 months until DH hits 55 and can access his 401k and start getting his pension. At 55, I'll receive the same.

You may need to re-think this and start putting money into taxable accounts to cover the time until you reach 59 1/2.

To be able to access your 401(k) without using 72(t)/SEPP withdrawals and not be hit with the 10% penalties, you need to remain an employee until the year in which you turn 55 (50 for qualified public safety employees).

If you are not qualified public safety employees, retiring at 50 or 53 means you need to take 72(t)/SEPP withdrawals if you don't want to get hit with the penalty.

From IRS Pub 575 on exceptions to the 10% penalty:

Additional exceptions for qualified retirement plans. The tax does not apply to distributions that are:

· From a qualified retirement plan (other than an IRA) after your separation from service in or after the year you reached age 55 (age 50 for qualified public safety employees),

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