As a general rule, you cannot get access to your pre-tax retirement accounts before age 59.5. If you do withdraw funds before that age from an IRA, SIMPLE, SEP, or another such plan, the IRS will hit you with a 10% penalty.
Being Disabled Changes The Rules
If, however, you are totally and permanently disabled, you can withdraw money from these retirement accounts without paying the penalty. One good way to establish your disability is a finding by Social Security that you can no longer work. Keep in mind that this means only that you will not pay the 10% penalty. Your
withdrawals will still be subject to income tax, the same as if you had waited until age 59.5 Note, too, that different rules apply to Roth IRA's.
Consider Early Withdrawals If Your Life Expectancy Has Shortened
If Social Security has found that you are disabled you may wish to talk with your financial advisor about tapping your retirement accounts before age 59.5. This is especially true if your disabling condition is likely to shorten your life expectancy.
Talk To A Financial Advisor Before Making Any Moves
I cannot give financial advice, so please do not make any decisions based on this post. But, keep this in mind if you are disabled and have money in a retirement account that you need before reaching the usual age to begin withdrawals.