Are you considering taking an early withdrawal from your IRA (Individual Retirement Account)? You may want to hit the pause button and think twice. This may seem like an attractive option, especially if you’ve fallen on hard times and are having difficulties making ends meet. However, you could be receiving less assistance than you anticipated. Here are a few key things to keep in mind.

You Will Be Penalized

If you choose to take an early withdrawal from your IRA account, aka prior to age 59 ½, then you’ll face a twofold penalty. The amount withdrawn will be considered a part of your income for the year, which you’ll have to pay taxes on, and you’ll incur an additional 10 percent tax penalty, according to the IRS.

There Are Exceptions

The good news is that there are a few ways to get around this penalty. A common tactic is to take out a loan from your account. However, this has to be paid back or you will still face the same income penalties. Being on unemployment or disability also open up a few more opportunities to give you some financial aid from your account. This is to help with any medical or hardship expenses. Be sure to have all of your paperwork in order so that you don’t get unduly penalized. Purchasing your home may be another opportunity where you can withdraw a certain amount without paying a penalty.

As you can imagine, tax laws are extensive and nuanced. It’s hard to even find specific answers on their website, and if you’ve tried to call the IRS you know to be prepared to hold for around an hour. This is why you’ll want to talk to a financial professional to ensure that you are up-to-date on the most recent laws and regulations governing any exceptions before you make your early withdrawal.

Roth IRA Exception

Specifically if you have a Roth IRA (which is funded with post-tax money) which is at least five years old, you can withdraw from the amount you have deposited, but not the amount that money has earned. For example, if you deposited $1,000 and it accrued $200 over those five years, you can withdraw up to $1,000 but will pay penalties on the $200 if that’s also withdrawn. Again, check in with your financial advisor or institution before choosing the option.