From Cases Where You Shouldn’t Max Out Your 401k Some people want to retire before the age of 59 ½. If this is you, it’s a good idea to have money outside of traditional retirement accounts. For some, this will involve aggressive savings (the Financially Independent, Retired Early crowd). For others, it’s simply having money set aside for a year or two before traditional retirement accounts can be tapped. If early retirement is your goal, consider slowing down your 401(k) contributions once your account balance is adequate. It may be better to put your money in taxable accounts rather than pay the 10% penalty tax on early withdrawals.The Motley Fool via USA Today
The above is correct, but incomplete. As you see in the below information, it is possible to leave ones job before age 59-1/2 and also avoid the ten percent tax penalty for an early withdrawal.
If you retire or are laid off in the calendar year you turn 55 or later—or the year you turn 50 if you’re a public service employee—you can withdraw funds from your current 403(b) or 401(k) plan without paying the early withdrawal 403(b) or 401(k) penalty.https://www.forbes.com/advisor/retirement/rule-of-55-retirement/
You can’t retire at age 53 and then start taking 401(k) withdrawals at age 55, for instance. “It only works if you’ve left your job in the year you turn 55 or later,” says Luber. “You can’t start taking that money out if you’ve already retired early.”https://www.forbes.com/advisor/retirement/rule-of-55-retirement/
You aren’t locked in to early retirement if you choose to take early withdrawals at age 55. If you decide to return to part-time or even full-time work, you can still keep taking withdrawals without paying the 401(k) penalty—just as long as they only come from the retirement account you began withdrawing from.https://www.forbes.com/advisor/retirement/rule-of-55-retirement/