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Retirement plans are intended to be used for retirement. However, sometimes life gets in the way and you need to tap those funds early. Generally, when you take a distribution from your retirement plan prior to reaching age 59 1/2, you will be hit a with a 10% early distribution penalty. However, there are some exceptions to the penalty. Determining whether an exception applies can be tricky because some exceptions apply only to IRAs and some apply only to company plans. Other exceptions apply to both. Take our 10% early distribution quiz and see how well you know these complicated rules. The answers are at the bottom.

1. Steve’s daughter just got into Yale. He is proud but facing a big tuition bill. Steve, age 52, can tap which of his retirement plans penalty-free to pay that for his daughter’s qualified education expenses?

a. His IRA
b. His 401(k)
c. Both his IRA and 401(k)

2. Terry, age 52, retired from her job as a federal public safety worker in the year she reached age 50. She wants to celebrate her retirement by taking a cruise. Which retirement plan can she access penalty-free to pay for this trip of a life time?

a. Her IRA
b. Her plan from her job as a public safety worker
c. Both her IRA and her plan

3. Ben passed away at age 25. The beneficiary of both his IRA and his 401(k) is his brother Brian who is 26. From which retirement account can Brian take penalty-free distributions?

a. The IRA
b. The 401(k)z
c. Both the IRA and 401(k)

4. Karen, age 34, is looking to purchase her first home. From which retirement account can she take a penalty-free distribution?

a. Her IRA
b. Her 401(k)
c. Both her IRA and 401(k)

5. Due to a serious car accident, Owen is severely disabled and unable to work at any job. From which accounts can he take penalty-free distributions?

a. His IRA
b. His 401(k)
c. Both his IRA and 401(k)

The answers are:
1: A
2: B
3: C
4: A
5: C