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Can I tap my money early?

You can't take out a loan or make an early withdrawal from a traditional pension plan as you can with a 401(k).

Most pensions won't allow you to withdraw until you reach retirement age. Typically that's 65, though many pension plans allow you to start collecting early retirement benefits as early as age 55. But if you decide to start receiving benefits before you reach full retirement age, the size of your monthly payout will be less than it would have been if you'd waited. Ask the folks who run your plan to create a simple table showing you how your payments will vary depending on when you start.