By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Victims of Hurricane Sandy who don’t want to wait for help from Congress (see related story) can borrow from their own 401(K) plans, without the usual penalties.

The IRS is easing its hardship rules for victims of Sandy. People with losses from the superstorm can make withdrawals from 401(K) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans without the usual 10-percent penalty.

IRS spokesman Dave Stewart says the paperwork is streamlined, you don’t have to use the money to rebuild (it can even be used for food and shelter), and family members living anywhere can borrow to help a relative in Sandy’s path.

“You can take out a loan or hardship distribution and use it to assist a son, a daughter, parent, grandparent, or other dependent who lived or worked in the disaster area,” he tells KYW Newsradio.  “So people living outside the area who are your family members, they can help you out, too.”

There is a deadline, though: Sandy hardship withdrawals have to be made by February 1st.  Lots more information is available at the IRS web site,

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