Fixed Amortization Method

DEFINITION of 'Fixed Amortization Method'

One of three methods by which early retirees of any age can access their retirement funds without penalty before turning 50.5. The fixed amortization method amortizes the retiree's account balance over his/her remaining life expectancy as estimated by IRS tables at an interest rate that is not more than 120% of the federal mid-term rate. Once the withdrawal amount is calculated, it cannot be changed.

The two other methods for early, penalty-free retirement withdrawals are the fixed annuitization method and the required minimum distribution method. Each method can result in quite different distribution amounts. The fixed amortization method can produce higher payments than the required minimum distribution method, but involves complex calculations and runs the risk of not keeping up with inflation.

BREAKING DOWN 'Fixed Amortization Method'

Although there are exceptions, usually, funds withdrawn before age 59.5 are assessed a 10% early withdrawal penalty. Retirees can elect to receive their distributions annually, quarterly or monthly. If withdrawals are stopped, all funds that have already been withdrawn become subject to early withdrawal penalties.