You are referring to the rule that states that distributions from your qualified plan (including 401k, profit sharing, money purchase plans and 403b plans) after you separate from service with your employer will not be subject to the 10% early-withdrawal penalty, provided the separation occurs in or after the year you reach age 55.
Because this rule is based on you leaving the services of the employer that offers the qualified plan, it does not apply to IRAs. Any amounts distributed from your IRA before you attain age 59 ½ will be subjected to an early-withdrawal penalty, unless you meet an exception to the early-withdrawal penalty.
For more on exceptions to the early-withdrawal penalty, read our article Taking Penalty-Free Withdrawals from Your IRA.
This question was answered by Denise Appleby
(Contact Denise)

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