I need access to money as I am temporarily not earning income. I have over $100,000 saved in a Roth IRA which has been in place for over 5 years. I am only 57. I heard that I was able to take money from my Roth IRA without incurring any fees or penalties as long as I only took out money I actually contributed, not any of the interest or gains the funds earned while invested. I am looking for verification that I have this option. I look forward to confirmation!! Thank you.
The simple answer is yes. It is an option. The math is straight forward to withdraw only your contributions if this is your first withdrawal; and if you have records for your contributions; and if you didn't do rollover contributions from a Traditional IRA. Form 8606 and Publication 590-B provide additional details.
Be careful about the details if your Roth IRA contains funds that were rolled over from a Traditional IRA. The rollover funds have their own 5-year clock.
Be sure to keep all Forms 8606 in case you need them for future tax returns.
Finally, from the long-term financial standpoint, try to be sure that this your best option. Older workers don't have long times to make up for the losses in principal when a withdrawal is made. So an early withdrawal adds risk for your future retirement needs.
Can you explain more about the statement "The math is straight forward to withdraw only your contributions if this is your first withdrawal" ? Does this mean that making multiple withdrawals, rather than in one large one, will complicate things and/or result in penalties?
I could have used a better choice for words there. The process is probably "straight forward" even with multiple withdrawals. Just be sure to keep your Forms 8606 and your Forms 5498 and know your basis. I've encountered some people who do OK making their first withdrawal and then they lose track of their paperwork and make mistakes about their basis in following years. If you are organized, then there should not be a problem.