Have a Tax Question? Ask a Tax Expert
If distributions are made as part of a series of substantially equal periodic payments over your life expectancy or the life expectancies of you and your designated beneficiary, the §72(t) tax does not apply.
Substantially the same means just that, the amounts are as close to equal as you can make them. Any violation of Section 409A causes the service provider (e.g. the employee) to recognize immediate income tax on deferred amounts, plus a penalty tax of 20% and other related penalties. Again, this tax and penalty apply to you, the participant, and not to the employer.
I think your first distribution may be alright as long as the remaining are still equal. This is under “laddering” where your first or last payment is higher.