Tag Archives: tsp

Reminder: TSP Withdrawal Changes Coming


The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is planning a “significant launch promotion” beginning this month to implement the Thrift Savings Plan changes stemming from the TSP Modernization Act. Congress imposed a deadline for these changes of November 1st, but the Board plans to implement them on October 1st.

Below is a summary of changes participants can expect.

Post-Separation Withdrawals

TSP participants will be able to make more than 2 post-separation withdrawals. Until the implementation date, separated participants can only make one partial withdrawal and one final withdrawal. Further, if the participant took an age-based withdrawal while employed, they can only take the final withdrawal.

When the changes are implemented, there won’t be a limit on the number of post-separation partial withdrawal if they aren’t taken more than once every 30 days. Taking an age-based withdrawal while employed won’t hurt separated participants from taking post-separation partial withdrawals.

Age-Based Withdrawals

Participants still employed will be able to take up to 4 age-based in-service withdrawals as long as they meet the age requirement (59 ½).

Installment Payments

Currently, the only way to take installment payments from TSP is on a monthly basis. The payments can be changed only once a year and can never be stopped. After implementation, quarterly and annual installment payments will be allowed. The amount of the payments can be changed and more often and they can be stopped or started.

Installment payments will no longer hinder a separated participant from taking a partial withdrawal. Those participants will also no longer be required to make a “full withdrawal election” by the age of 70 ½. However, they still must begin taking required minimum distributions from TSP by April 1st of the year after the year in which they reach 70 ½. This could be done by taking a partial distribution or by setting up installment payments.

These changes are beneficial to TSP participants. It’s important to know about them in order to take full advantage of them.

Tagged , , , ,

New Withdrawal Options for TSP


There will be significant changes made to the Thrift Savings Plan. Effective September 2019, these changes will focus on withdrawal options that have previously lacked flexibility. Because of that, many have looked for alternative options that offer more accessibility and control to their retirement savings.


Here are the changes you can expect to see:

Multiple Age-Based Withdrawals

Current: Participants have the opportunity for only one partial withdrawal in-service or post-separation.

Upcoming: For that 59 ½ or older, multiple age-based in-service and post-separation partial withdrawals will be allowed. You can’t make more than one every 30 days, and you’re limited to 4 per calendar year.

Traditional, Roth, or Both for Withdrawals

Current: If you have both a Traditional and a Roth balance, the only way to take a withdrawal is on a pro rata basis.

Upcoming: You can choose whether your withdrawal comes from your Roth balance, Traditional balance, or a proportional mix of both. You can still do a pro rata basis. This applies to all types of withdrawals.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s)

Current: Full withdrawal election is required after you turn 70 ½ and are separated from service.

Upcoming: You will no longer be required to make a full withdrawal election after you turn 70 ½ and are separated. You will, however, still need to have IRS RMD’s.

Installment Payments—Monthly, Quarterly, Annually

Current: Only monthly installment payments are available and only you can change the amount of your payment once during Open Season.

Upcoming: If you’re separated, you’ll also be able to choose quarterly or annual payments, and you’ll be able to stop, start, or make changes to your installment payments anytime.

For more information, check out tsp.gov.

Tagged , , , ,

New TSP Investment Option?

investmentThere is almost $600 billion just sitting in the Thrift Savings plan waiting for federal employees to use it when they retire.

TSP and Congress

Congress has a track record of spending money from any available source, so it’s understandable to think of the possibility of them tapping into this money.

TSP funds are currently invested in a way that is typically immune from political interference. The TSP board has done a good job of keeping the TSP plan invested in low-cost index funds. As structured, the plan has resulted in the TSP being recognized and cited by national publications as an excellent retirement plan. However, this doesn’t mean TSP funds will remain immune from politics in the future.

The latest bill to “improve” TSP has been introduced by Jeff Merkley (D-OR). It’s the latest in a series of proposals to meet the social or political objectives of the legislation’s sponsor by using funds from the TSP.

The Merkley Bill

Sen. Merkley is concerned about climate change, so he named his bill The Retirement Investments for a Sustainable Economy (RISE) Act. According to his press release, “As climate chaos ramps up, all Americans deserve the option to divest from the fossil fuel industry. For the first time, this bill will give millions of federal employees the power to ensure their retirement funds are invested in a more sustainable, socially responsible investment portfolio.”

The purpose of this legislation is to give TSP investors a new investment option with a fund that doesn’t invest in the fossil fuel industry. The RISE Act would require the Government Accountability Office to check out the risk for investors from their TSP investments in fossil fuel companies. The RISE Act also directs GAO to provide a divestment tool for the TSP should the report show risk to investors from fossil fuel holdings.

In his press release, the Senator says that roughly translates as “everyone is divesting pension funds from fossil fuel companies.” Instead, they are putting their pension money “in a more sustainable, socially responsible investment portfolio.”


There isn’t a great chance of this bill getting passed into law. However, keeping up with changes to the TSP introduced in Congress is a good idea for TSP investors who want their investments to remain secure and deliver the best possible rate or return with minimum risk.

To read more about this, click here.

Tagged , , , , ,

Lifecycle TSP Funds Changing

lifecycleThe Thrift Savings Plan program will increase the proportion of some investments in certain stocks with the hopes of growing the amount of money annuitants receive after they retire. Agency officials of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board outlined a 15-year strategy to increase the proportion of equities in the Lifecycle (L) funds, which shift toward more stable investments as participants get closer to retirement.

Currently, TSP Lifecycle funds begin at 90% stocks, and the percentage of stocks decreases as the participant approaches their target retirement date. It drops to 50% when the participant reaches age 60, settling at 20% at age 62.

This new investment plan, known as a glide path, will be the next L fund to open—L 2060—and will begin with 99% of contributions invested in equities. When the average participant reaches age 35, the investments will begin to shift toward securities. At age 58, the fund will be 60% stocks and will move to 30% equities at age 63.

“This proposal will improve outcomes for L fund participants while not unreasonably increasing risk levels,” TSP Chief Investment Officer Sean McCaffrey said. “[The 15-year] transition plan minimizes the disruption for participants.”

Exiting accounts will maintain their current equity-to-securities ratio until they cross paths with the new glide path, at which point they will shift towards securities investment at the new rate. Further, the L funds will increase the proportion of stock holdings that come from international equities from 30% to 35%.

Russ Ivinjack, sr. partner at Aon Hewitt, who consulted with the TSP on L fund asset allocations, said that because the TSP is part of a “3-legged stool”, it can afford to take more risk.

“Having a defined benefit, we see that as a bond or a cash-like allocation,” he said. “This allows you to take more risk. Additionally, there is a great degree of income predictability, whereas if you look at industries that are highly cyclical or where the pay varies highly, you want to be more conservative.”

This new glide path will bring the TSP closer to the investment practices of other retirement programs but still remain more conservative than its private sector counterparts.

Tagged , , , , ,

More Flexibility for TSP Withdrawals


Officials have announced how they plan to provide additional flexibility to Thrift Savings Plan participants. The 2017 TSP Modernization Act allows federal employees and retirees to make multiple age-based withdrawals from their TSP accounts and remain eligible for partial withdrawals after leaving government. Further, those who have left government would be able to make multiple partial post-separation withdrawals.

Tanner Nohe, project manager supervisor at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said employees of the agency have been working on implementation since the law was signed last November. They plan to finish implementation by September 2019.

Currently, participants in TSP are allowed one partial withdrawal in their lifetime—either in-service at age 59 ½ or one after leaving federal service. After that, if a participant wishes to withdrawal money, they must make a full withdrawal, set up monthly payments, take an annuity, or take a lump sum.

However, once the new rules are in place, a participant will be able to make post-separation withdrawals as often as once every 30 days without triggering a full withdrawal. Additionally, in-service age-based withdrawals will be possible up to 4x per year.

Nohe said, “With the change to one withdrawal every 30 days, that’s just a processing rule. It’s to prevent mistakes or duplication.”

The new law also lays the groundwork to provide participants greater flexibility in changing the amount and frequency of monthly installment payments. Before this Act, a former federal employee could only receive payments from their account monthly, and changes to the sum of those payments could only be made during Open Season between October-December. On the other hand, under the upcoming changes, a participant can elect to stop and restart installment payments anytime. Retirees can also make partial post-separation withdrawals while receiving regular payments.

Before the final provisions of the new law go into effect, TSP will cease its practice of “account abandonment” as early as August of this year. Under current TSP and IRS rules, when a participant reaches age 70 ½, they must arrange for a full withdrawal and make a required minimum distribution to take out of their account each year. If that’s not done, TSP moves all their holdings into the G-fund—government securities that accrue at a statutorily mandated interest rate—and contacts the participant to inform them of the change.

Kim Weaver, an agency spokesperson, said that activity usually prompts the participant to contact the agency, at which point they set up how they wish to receive payments and the money is reinvested in other portfolios as they wish.

Under the upcoming change, a full withdrawal election is no longer required. Instead of abandoning an account, the agency will send a check for the minimum withdrawal payment required by law. Additionally, participants will be able to select whether the required payments come from their standard or Roth account, or some combination of the two.

Tagged , , , , ,

Is There is a Difference Between Retiring at Age 61 or 62?


Deciding when to retire can sometimes be a difficult decision. Your age, years of service, and your own personal situation come into play. Waiting until age 62 seems to be the norm for most, but is it really so costly if you retire at age 61, assuming you’re eligible to do so? Let’s look at an example to find out.

Retiring at 61

First, if you are a FERS employee with 20+ years of service, you can retire anytime after your 60th birthday.

Let’s say you are 61 and retire with 21 years of service. Because you retired before age 62, you would get 1.0% of your High-3 salary for each year of service, so in this case, 21%. If your High-3 is $75,000, that would be $15,750 annually, or $1312.50 a month.

You would also qualify for the special annuity supplement. There is a special calculation for this that uses your estimated Social Security benefit at age 62 (available from the Social Security Administration). For the calculation, you take the SS benefit and divide it by 40, then multiply that by your years of service. For the sake of this example, let’s say this adds $850 a month to your annuity. So, for that full year, until you are 62 and no longer eligible for this supplement, this adds $10,200, making your yearly annuity $25,950, or $2162.50 a month.

Retiring at 62

Waiting until age 62 to retire means you don’t receive the supplement, however, your annuity will be calculated 10% higher because you get 1.1% of your High-3 for each year of service instead of 1.0%.

In our example, you would get 24.2% of your High-3 instead of 21%. This is because working that extra year adds another year to your service, making it 22 instead of 21. Using a High-3 of $75,000 again, this makes your yearly annuity $18,150, or $1512.50 a month. Not counting the supplement, that’s a difference of $2,400 a year between the 2 years.

Now, let’s say you live another 20 years. Retiring at 62 will generate $363,000 (20 years x $18,150), while retiring just one year earlier generates $315,000 (20 years x $15,750). A difference of $48,000. Then subtract the special supplement amount of $10,200 you would’ve received for that one year and you get $37,800. Essentially, this is the amount you gain by waiting to retire at 62, which offsets the just over $10,000 you get from the supplement, 3.5x more.

In addition, you also miss another year of TSP contributions and agency matching, which in our example, could be as much as $7,500.

Many other factors come into play, such as work environment, illness, etc. But if you strictly look at the money aspect, it doesn’t seem to make sense to retire at age 61.

Tagged , , , , ,

Important Step Being Forgotten

stepThe Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) administers the Thrift Savings Plan and they are saying more military service members are opting into the new blended retirement system each month, however, thousands are forgetting an important step.

Around 20,000 participants have opted into the BRS and will receive the automatic 1% contribution from their employing military service, but they haven’t chosen how much they’ll contribute from their own paychecks. Contributions from BRS participants aren’t automatic unless a service member specifically designated them.

Under the system, members automatically receive 1% from their military services, but they can receive up to 5% from their agency depending on how much they choose to contribute from their paychecks.

Individual military services have been automatically enrolling new members to the TSP since January 1, 2018. Current members with 12 years or less of service had to specifically opt-in to use the blended retirement. Those with less than 12 years of service have until December 31, 2018, to decide whether they should stay in the current retirement system or opt into BRS.

About 162,000 service members are missing out of TSP’s full benefits.

Tagged , , , ,

TSP Security Audit Sees Low Score


The agency that administers the Thrift Savings Plan, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, received the lowest of 5 possible scores on a recent audit to determine its compliance with federal information security standards.

The consulting firm, Williams Adley, sent auditors who examined the information security program at the FRTIB under the Federal Information Security Modernization Act. The agency scored a Level 1 in accordance with the law’s fiscal 2017 inspector general reporting metrics out of 5, in the first annual study of FRTIB’s policies.

Auditors found some of the IT policies “ad hoc” in nature, despite FRTIB starting several initiatives to upgrade its IT infrastructure and cyber security recently. In comparison, an effective information security program scored at Level 4, which includes the collection of “quantitative and qualitative measures on the effectiveness of policies, procedures, and strategy” at an agency and assessment for needed changes.

“FRTIB has not fully developed and implemented an effective organization-wide information security program,” the auditors said. “Williams Adley identified a number of control deficiencies related to people, process, and technology across all 7 IG FISMA metric domains.”

However, officials at FRTIB explained their poor scoring. For a policy to be considered toward improving an agency’s FISMA score, it must be in place for an entire fiscal year. Otherwise, any changes to their information security policies made after September 30, 2016, wouldn’t be considered in the audit.

TSP Executive Director Ravindra Deo echoed this saying, “Any change needs to be operating for the entire year to show up in the score.”

Auditors listed many factors leading to the “ad hoc” scoring, including a “control-driven” or reactionary information security process, inadequately defined responsibilities and “inappropriate” oversight between FRTIB and its contractors, and efforts that focus on symptoms or problems, rather than root causes.

The audit recommended FRTIB “clearly define an organization-wide risk-based information security program” and also reevaluate its governance structure to ensure better oversight and monitoring of information security issues.

The agency said they are moving forward with plans to implement these recommendations.

Tagged , , , ,

Stick to Your TSP Saving Strategy


Saving for retirement is long-term. It’s an investment. It takes time. First, you need to establish your retirement goals and a strategy that helps you reach those goals. It’s much easier to stick to your plan once you have made goals and develop and a strategy.

Avoid Chasing Returns

Distractions happen. Don’t let short-term market movements lead you astray. Avoid merely chasing returns. Trying to “time the market” means you must be consistently correct twice—knowing exactly when to get out of a particular asset class and exactly when to get back in. This may work at times, but its’ highly unlikely to be successful over long periods.

Your investment performance is determined, in large part, by your asset allocation, not by guessing which market is going to be in favor at a certain time. Significant changes can occur quickly in stock markets. By the time you react, the market may already be moving in the opposite direction. This could cost you a lot of money over time.

Saving Consistency

It’s easy to be consistent about saving for retirement since you make contributions to your TSP through payroll deduction. Further, if you’re investing 5% of your salary, your agency matches that to help you even more.

Revisit Your Plan

Just as it’s important to stick to your plan and be consistent about saving, it’s equally as important to periodically review your strategy to make sure it’s in line with your needs, goals, timeline, and risk tolerance.

There are reasons to adjust your TSP allocation, such as approaching your retirement date. This should also signal a need for adjustment to your timeline and a consideration for a more conservative asset allocation.

Other events that might require modification include marriage, divorce, job change, military service, or economic hardship.

Remember, saving for retirement is long-term. Be patient. Trust the process. Be proactive, not reactive. Doing these should help you reach your retirement goals.

Tagged , , , ,

Non-Pay Status and TSP


So far in this series, we have covered the basics of the Thrift Saving Planemployee and agency contributions, the differences between Traditional and Roth TSP accounts, loansin-service and post-separation withdrawals, and life annuities, and taxes of post-separation withdrawals and IRS withdrawal penalties. With this current government shutdown, it is appropriate this is the last post in this series about TSP. This post looks at what effect a non-pay status (i.e. a government shutdown) has on your TSP account.

Effect of Non-Pay Status on Your TSP Account

The following looks at the effects a period of non-pay has on TSP loans, contributions, and withdrawals. This applied to civilian employees who are placed in a non-pay status (furlough of LWOP) and for members of uniformed services who are in Ready Reserves and have been given approval by their command to skip scheduled drills, or whose yearly drill schedule is performed over a 1-2-month period.

It does not apply to employees who are in no-pay status performing an assignment with a state or local government agency under provisions of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, or to those who are in non-pay status serving as full-time officers or employees of a union.


You can’t take a loan while in no-pay status. TSP loan payments are deducted from your pay, so if you aren’t receiving pay, you aren’t eligible for a TSP loan.


If your furlough is expected to last 30 days or less, you can take a TSP loan. On the other hand, if the furlough will be longer than that, you can’t take a loan from your TSP.

If you expect to be furloughed on a periodic basis (i.e. one day per pay period), you can take a loan, but you will be responsible for keeping your loan payments up-to-date.

The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) requires TSP loan payment be repaid in level payments. Payment through regular payroll deduction satisfies this. If your loan isn’t repaid in level payments, the IRC requires TSP to declare it a taxable distribution. Meaning TSP will report your unpaid loan balance (including accrued interest) as income to you. Further, you must pay tax on the amount and if you’re under age 59 ½ you may also be subject to an additional 10% tax penalty.

Although, tax-exempt and Roth contributions that may be included in the distribution are not subject to tax, any Roth earnings included in the distribution will be subject to federal income tax, even if you have already met the conditions necessary for your Roth to be qualified.

The reasons stated above are why it’s very important for you to be sure that your furlough will not last more than 30 days. Otherwise, be prepared to make regular loan payments from your own funds and you could face severe tax consequences if the furlough lasts longer.

Outstanding Loan When Placed in Non-Pay Status

Because TSP loan payments are made through payroll deductions, a period without pay will result in missed payments (unless made directly from your own funds). If you go into approved non-pay status, the IRC allows you to suspend TSP loan payments up to one year of the non-pay period. This isn’t automatic, so you must provide TSP with the proper documentation.

Note: If you are a civilian entering non-pay status to perform military service, you can suspend payments on your loan until you return to pay status, even if your civilian non-pay status lasts longer than a year. This is because you can’t repay your civilian payments from uniformed service pay.

Discontinuous Furlough

Your agency may choose to do this by putting you on a furlough that requires you to work fewer hours. Agencies do this because it reduces the financial impact on you and lessens the disruption to the agency. It may still cause you to not have sufficient pay to cover deductions. When this happens, agencies must follow an order of precedence to determine which deductions get processed. The order is:

  1. Retirement
  2. Social Security
  3. Medicare Tax
  4. Federal Income Tax
  5. Health Insurance and any other deductions
  6. TSP Loans

Therefore, furloughed employees for a discontinuous period may not have enough gross pay for the agency to make TSP loan payment deductions and you may fall behind on payments. Agencies aren’t permitted to submit partial loan payments.

TSP will notify you is you’ve missed more than 2 ½ loan payments at the end of a calendar quarter. This notice provides you with the amount needed to bring your loan up-to-date. If you don’t submit payment by the required date, the unpaid balance (including interest accrued) will be declared a taxable distribution and you could incur the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

You need to notify TSP of non-pay status only if your non-pay is expected to last, or has been extended more than 30 days.

Failure to Notify TSP of Non-Pay Status

If neither you nor your agency notifies TSP of a non-pay status, your loan is considered closed, and you can’t repay it. Also, for 12 months following the date of the taxable distribution, you aren’t eligible to apply for another loan from the account.

While in a non-pay status, if you receive miscellaneous civilian basic pay (medical, annual, or military leave) in an amount large enough to cover a loan payment, your agency may deduct a loan payment from that.

Non-Pay Status Longer Than a Year and Loans

TSP loan payments must resume at the end of one year of non-pay status, even if you still haven’t returned to pay status unless it’s for active military duty. Your loan will automatically re-amortize at the end of a calendar quarter following the expiration of your one-year limit. Once you receive confirmation of this, you must make loan payments directly to TSP from your personal funds.


You are not allowed to contribute to TSP while in a non-pay status. These deductions must be made from civilian or uniformed service pay. If you are a civilian employee in non-pay status to perform military service, you may make contributions to your uniformed services TSP account. You may also be titled to make up TSP contributions to your civilian account when you return to civilian pay status.

Receiving Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ Compensation are payments made by OWCP and by law, aren’t payments from which TSP contributions can be made. Also, while you are in a non-pay status, you can’t contribute to TSP or make loan payments from OWCP benefits.

Harris Federal Law Firm helps federal and Postal employees nationwide with federal disability retirement cases. If you have an injury or illness that keeps you from performing your essential job duties, you may qualify for Federal Disability Retirement. Give us a call at 877-226-2723 or fill out this INQUIRY form today.

Tagged , , , ,