I just want somebody to clarify this for me. The way I read it is you qualify if you leave your job that you have the 401k in the year that you turn 55. So if I turn 55 on September 1, 2017 but I leave on January 1, 2017, then I still qualify. Is this correct?
It’s the year someone separates from service that matters, not the distribution date. To qualify for the penalty exception, separation from service must occur in the year the person turns age 55 or older.
From the Ed Slott article linked in the comment.
Yes, if you leave in the year you turn 55, you're all set.
The option if you miss the date is a Sec 72(t) series of withdrawals.