Most people have to take minimum required distributions from retirement plans after they reach age 70 1/2. Such people generally take 3-4 percent from their IRA each year, at the beginning of the process.

By comparison, if you need to take IRA distributions earlier, to support a retirement lifestyle, you may need to take out a higher percentage. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t withdraw more than 8 percent per year because larger withdrawals are likely to deplete your IRA, over a lengthy retirement.

In order to support a higher level of distributions (5-8 percent rather than 3-4 percent) you probably will need to keep more money in stocks, for long-term growth. What’s more, you may want to emphasize high-dividend stocks, such as electric utilities, real estate investment trusts, and preferred stocks.

If distributions of 5-8 percent per year are desired, all interest and dividends within the IRA probably should be taken in cash, and eventually withdrawn, rather than reinvested. What’s more, when securities must be sold, the high-dividend stocks can be the ones to remain in place.