Terms of Use:   

Yes, you can access the money in a traditional IRA before you retire, but in most cases there are penalties associated with doing so.  If you withdraw funds prior to age 59-1/2 from a traditional IRA, they will be taxed at ordinary income tax rates.  Withdrawals prior to age 59-1/2 will also be subject to a 10% penalty from the IRS.  Any funds withdrawn after age 59-1/2 are penalty-free.   

The 10% penalty for withdrawing funds prior to age 59-1/2 is waived for any withdrawals due to

  • the IRA owner's disability

  • the IRA owner's death

  • a series of "substantially equal periodic payments" made over the life expectancy of the IRA owner

  • unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI)

  • medical insurance premiums after the IRA owner has received unemployment compensation for more than 12 weeks

  • costs of a first-time home purchase (subject to a lifetime limit of $10,000)

  • qualified expenses of higher education for the IRA owner and/or eligible family members

  • pay back taxes because of an Internal Revenue Service levy placed against the IRA

Withdrawals at any time for any reason are subject to income tax.  If nondeductible contributions were made to a traditional IRA, part of any withdrawal from that IRA will not be taxed.