I'm assuming that the money is in a CD -- or some other special place that offers a rate no longer available. So the answer would be yes, you could break a CD without penalty if you're over age 70-1/2. But then you would have to find another place to invest it. AND, you would need tax dollars OUTSIDE your IRA to pay taxes on all the previous gains in the account until the time of conversion. AND, that might put you into a higher income bracket, which could impact things like the cost of Medicare Part B. If you are under the age of 70=1/2 -- the age for minimum required distributions -- it is up to the institution to assess a penalty on early withdrawals. Some make an exception for seniors. But do ask before proceeding.