Q. Do I have to retire before I can take money out of my IRA?
A. No, you don't have to retire. But in most cases, you'll be required to pay a 10 percent penalty if you take money from your IRA before you turn 59 1/2. The same goes for an early tapping of a 401(k).
If you're eligible for a penalty-free withdrawal, think twice about proceeding. Unless you truly need the money now, it may be better to leave the account alone — and keep the tax man waiting. Still, you can't do that forever. By April 1 of the year following the year in which you turn 70 1/2, you'll be required to begin withdrawing money from your IRA or 401(k).
You may also like: Use the new AARP 401(k) Fee Calculator. >>
Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.