Hardship Withdrawal Penalties of 401K Plans

Some contributions into a 401K retirement plan are available early in cases of hardship withdrawal. Hardship has to be proven and a fee or penalty usually applies.

Hardship Withdrawal Penalties of 401K Plans
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Overview
One way to access 401k money in an emergency is a hardship withdrawal. Companies are not required to provide hardship provisions. You will need to check with your company.
Ten Percent Penalty
Account holders who are younger than 59 1/2 may be assessed a 10 percent tax penalty for withdrawing money from their 401k.
Regular Income Tax
Because the deposits into a 401k plan are pre-tax, when you withdraw money you have to pay regular income tax on the withdrawal.
Last Resort
To take a hardship withdrawal, you must first have obtained all distributions or loans available in your 401k account.
Stop Contributions
You cannot contribute into the 401k for six months following your hardship withdrawal.
Five Allowable Reasons
Hardship withdrawals can be for unreimbursed medical expenses, purchase of a primary residence, 12 months of college costs, prevention of foreclosure on or repair to your primary residence, or funeral costs.
Prove You Need It
You will need to prove that the hardship withdrawal is the only way to meet the expense.
Resources
reference
401k Research Institute
reference
401k Basic Information
reference
Guide to Hardship withdrawals
resource
Basics of Hardsip Withdrawals