SEPPs must be taken at least annually and are based on the life expectancy of the account owner or account owner and beneficiary. Account owners can choose from one of three methods to determine their payments: 1) the required minimum distribution (RMD) method, 2) the fixed amortization method, or 3) the fixed annuitization method. To qualify for this early distribution penalty exception, a series of payments must continue unchanged until the later of five years or until the account owner reaches age 59½.
Final regulations containing updated life expectancy tables were issued (and announced) in 2020. The IRS updated the life expectancy tables to ensure that future required payments from retirement savings arrangements would better reflect actual life expectancies. Notice 2022-06 notes that when using the RMD or fixed amortization methods, the new life expectancy tables are to be used for any series of payments commencing on or after January 1, 2023, and may be used for a series of payments commencing in 2022. Account owners that begin a series of payments before 2023 using the RMD method may switch to an updated table without being treated as having a modification of payments.