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Many savers worried they'd need to dip into their retirement savings to make ends meet over the past year. Yet a new report from Vanguard shows few of the firm's plan participants did so, despite an effort by the federal government to lower the barriers to taking a distribution.

The CARES Act — a $2 trillion effort by the federal government to help offset the pandemic-induced recession — contained a provision making it easier to withdraw or borrow money from some retirement accounts in 2020. It also loosened the tax penalties and even gives savers the option to pay a withdrawal back.