When you distribute money early from the IRA with an exception distribution, you still have to pay ordinary income taxes on it, but you don't have to incur a 10% penalty.
If you haven't owned a primary residence in the last 2 years, you can qualify as a "first-time home buyer" according to the IRS. This will allow you to distribute up to $10,000 from your IRA. You can also use your 401(k) if it is allowed in your plan documents.
Total and permanent disability of the participant/IRA owner
You can distribute retirement savings to pay for qualified higher education expenses.
You have unreimbursed medical expenses that are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, or 10% if under age 65.
An IRA can be distributed at death to a beneficiary or convert to an inherited IRA. Inherited IRAs force required minimum distributions on the beneficiary, as they are set based on the previous owner’s age, not your own.
To read more about possible distribution exceptions, visit the IRS Exceptions chart on distributions.