Starting at age 50, there are a number of perks available to investors:
Age 50 and older: Catch-up contributions
For 2014, 401(k) and 403(b) contributors can add up to an additional $5,500 per year. IRA contributors can add an additional $1,000 annually.
Age 55+: Penalty-free withdrawals from employer plan
Starting in the calendar year you reach age 55, if you retire, quit, or are fired from your job, there is no 10% early withdrawal penalty. This means someone between the ages of 55 and 59 ½ may not want to transfer employer plan assets to an IRA. Once in the IRA, any withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ would be subject to a 10% penalty unless there was an applicable exception.
Furthermore, employees still working may be able to take penalty-free with-drawls from a 401(k) after a certain age. Whether or not there is a qualified plan withdrawal penalty for an employee age 55, 56, or whatever depends on the wording of plan documents. These in-service withdrawals could make sense if the money is moved to an IRA that may have lower fees or broader investment options.
HSA contributors can add an additional $1,000 a year to their HSA account once age 55 is reached.
Age 59 ½+: Penalty-free withdrawals from most plans
At this age, money withdrawn from most retirement plans is no longer subject to a 10% early penalty. Moreover, for those still working, company retirement plans offer the ultimate in flexibility: contributions can still be made while taking penalty-free withdrawals.
Additionally, traditional IRA accounts converted to a Roth IRA are not subject to the 5-year rule. This means all Roth IRA account assets can be withdrawn tax free and there is no penalty, simply because age 59 ½ has been reached.
Age 65+: HSA withdrawals for any purpose
Withdrawals from an HSA plan can be used for any reason; the 20% penalty is waived since account owner is now at least age 65. Non-medical use means all withdrawals are taxable, but at least the 20% penalty is avoided. Withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are tax-free and the 20% penalty is always avoided.