The Rule of 55: What It Is and How It Works

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Understanding the Rule of 55

The Rule of 55 is an IRS provision allowing individuals 55 or older to withdraw funds from their 401(k) or 403(b) retirement accounts without incurring the usual 10% early withdrawal penalty. This rule is a significant advantage for those needing access to their retirement savings before the traditional retirement age 59½.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for the Rule of 55, you must:

  • Be 55 or older: You must have turned 55 by the end of the year you separate from your employer.
  • Separate from service: You must have left your job voluntarily or involuntarily in the year you turn 55 or later.

Key Considerations

  • Applicable Accounts: The Rule of 55 applies to 401(k) and 403(b) plans from your most recent employer. It does not apply to IRAs or plans from previous employers unless you roll them over.
  • Tax Implications: Withdrawals are still subject to regular income taxes, although they are penalty-free.
  • Partial Withdrawals: You can take partial withdrawals as needed, which helps manage your tax liability.
  • Plan-Specific Rules: Not all employer plans offer the Rule of 55 provision. Check with your plan administrator for details.


  • Early Access to Funds: This rule provides financial flexibility by allowing access to retirement funds without the 10% penalty.
  • Strategic Planning Tool: Can bridge the income gap between early retirement and Social Security benefits.
  • Avoiding Loans: Reduces the need to take out loans or deplete other savings.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Impact on Long-Term Savings: Early withdrawals can reduce the amount available for later retirement years.
  • Tax Burden: Withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income, potentially increasing your tax liability.
  • Plan Limitations: Some plans may have specific requirements or not offer this option.
Rule Of 55

How We Can Help

At The Annuity Expert, we understand that navigating the complexities of retirement planning can be overwhelming. The core problem many face is the need for reliable, penalty-free access to their retirement funds before reaching age 59½. This need arises from various circumstances, such as early retirement, job loss, or unexpected financial emergencies.

Emotional Impact

The uncertainty of not having access to your funds can cause significant stress and anxiety. It’s not just about the money; it’s about feeling secure and prepared for the future. We understand these emotional stakes and are here to help you manage them effectively.

With 15 years of experience as an insurance agency, annuity broker, and retirement planner, we have the expertise to guide you through the Rule of 55. We stand for finding the best solution at the lowest cost for our clients. We believe in empowering you with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions about your retirement.

What We Recommend

Step 1: Initial Consultation

  • Action: Schedule a free consultation with one of our retirement planning experts.
  • What Happens: We will review your current retirement accounts and employment status to determine your eligibility for the Rule of 55.
  • Benefit: Gain clarity on your eligibility and understand how you can leverage this rule to your advantage.

Step 2: Customized Strategy Development

  • Action: Work with us to develop a personalized withdrawal strategy.
  • What Happens: We will create a plan that aligns with your financial goals and minimizes your tax burden.
  • Benefit: Have a clear, actionable plan tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.

Step 3: Ongoing Support and Management

  • Action: Engage our services for ongoing support.
  • What Happens: We will monitor your withdrawals, provide continuous advice, and adjust your strategy as needed.
  • Benefit: Enjoy peace of mind knowing your retirement funds are being managed effectively, ensuring long-term financial stability.

Features and Benefits

  • Expert Consultation: Personalized advice from experienced professionals.
    Meaning: You receive tailored guidance that addresses your unique situation.
  • Strategic Planning: Development of customized withdrawal strategies.
    Meaning: You optimize your retirement savings and tax outcomes.
  • Ongoing Support: Continuous monitoring and advice.
    Meaning: You have a trusted partner managing your retirement funds, reducing stress and uncertainty.

Overcoming Objections

  • Concern: “I’m not sure if I qualify for the Rule of 55.”
    • Response: Our initial consultation will clarify your eligibility, ensuring you understand your options.
  • Concern: “I’m worried about the tax implications.”
    • Response: Our customized strategies are designed to minimize your tax burden while maximizing your benefits.
  • Concern: “I don’t want to run out of money in retirement.”
    • Response: We focus on long-term planning and ongoing support to ensure your financial stability.

Ignoring this opportunity can lead to unnecessary penalties and missed financial advantages. By working with us, you secure expert guidance, a customized strategy, and ongoing support, ensuring you make the most of your retirement savings.

Imagine feeling confident and secure, knowing you have access to your funds without penalties and a strategic plan in place. Contact us today for free advice or a free quote and take the first step towards a secure and financially stable retirement.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Rule of 55 examples?

Suppose you are terminated due to downsizing soon after turning 55. In that case, you can withdraw funds from your 401k or 403b using the rule of 55 without incurring the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Do you pay taxes on withdrawals using the Rule of 55?

If you withdraw money under the Rule of 55, you will still owe income taxes on the amount withdrawn from your 401k.

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Shawn Plummer is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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