Ask The Experts: Money Matters

By Mike Miles

Lump-sum withdrawal

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Q. Upon retirement, can I elect to take a full withdrawal in the form of monthly payments, and then at some later date choose to take a one-time lump-sum withdrawal? For instance, three years after retiring, can I choose to remove $50,000 if I have never taken a lump-sum amount.

A. Only if the lump-sum is the entire balance remaining in your account.

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Girlfriend on annuity

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Q. I am 63 and will be retiring under FERS probably within the next two years. Am I allowed to have my long-term girlfriend on my TSP annuity?

A. Maybe:

“If you chose a TSP annuity that provides for a joint annuitant other than your spouse, the joint annuitant must be either a former spouse or someone with an insurable interest in you. This means that the person is financially dependent on you and could reasonably expect to derive financial benefit from your continued life.

Blood relatives or adopted relatives (but not relatives by marriage) who are closer than first cousins are presumed to have an insurable interest in you. If you name such a joint annuitant (i.e., a former spouse or someone with an insurable interest) who is more than 10 years younger than you, you must choose a joint life annuity with the 50% survivor benefit. The only exception is for a former spouse to whom all or a portion of your TSP account is payable pursuant to a retirement benefits court order.

If the person named as your joint annuitant is not presumed to have an insurable interest in you, you must submit an affidavit (i.e., a certification signed before a notary public) from someone with personal knowledge that the named person has an insurable interest in you.
The certifier must know the relationship between you and the joint annuitant and must state why he or she believes that the named joint annuitant might reasonably expect to benefit financially from your continued life.”

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TSP transfer

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Q. I have been retired from the federal government for eight years and have worked for a private firm. I have a 401k that I have been contributing to since I started working for this firm. Can I transfer my existing 401k to the TSP when I stop working.

A. Yes, as long as it doesn’t contain any after-tax money. Use Form TSP-60.

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Tax withholding

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Q. I’m 68 and still working, and I started drawing Social Security when I turned 66 two years ago. How do I calculate how much taxes will come out of my Social Security, TSP and FERS retirement checks?

A. You will find the rules for tax withholding from TSP distributions in the table on Page 3 of the notice at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf.

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Annual Leave payout

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Q. I am a federal employee and will retire Jan. 3. I will have about 400 hours of Annual Leave for a cash payout. Am I allowed to request that this monetary amount be directly rolled into an eligible 401K plan and not have any taxes taken out? If I take the cash payout, can I predetermine the tax percentage based on my calculations or does the government tax at the maximum rate?

A. You may not direct the payout into an IRA or 401k plan. Taxes will be withheld according to the W-4 you have on file with your payroll office.

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Revocable trust

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Q. I am federal employee and plan to retire in about six months or a year. I want to leave the money in TSP when I retire, but want to include TSP in a living revocable trust. I read online that it is not a good idea because the IRS considers that as a lump-sum transfer and I will be taxed at almost 35 percent. But when I consulted an estate-planning attorney, I was told that I can include TSP in the trust, and it does not make any difference in how I withdraw the money. I am confused. Please advise me if it is a good idea to include TSP in a revocable trust or not. Read the rest of this entry »

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Withdrawal eligibility

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Q. I was under FERS and I retired after 20 years. I was 55 then, and I am 57 now. When will I be able to withdraw my TSP?

A. Based on the facts you have provided, you may withdraw your funds at any time.

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TSP and health insurance

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Q. When I retire, I plan to roll over the balance of my TSP to my IRA in a brokerage account. Can I keep my FEHBP health insurance without having an annuity?

A. Your TSP account has nothing to do with your FEHBP coverage.

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TSP withdrawal

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Q. I am under the CSRS retirement system. I have 32 years of federal service. I am 56 and plan on retiring at 60. I contribute to the TSP, $17,500 per year and an additional $2,600 catch-up to the TSP per year. I am a GS-13/7. My high-3 would most likely be at this pay grade. How can I calculate how much my monthly annuity would be upon retirement so my financial adviser will have a better understanding of my situation upon retirement? I know about the ballpark estimates, but I would
like something a bit more concrete. When do I need to start withdrawing from my TSP fund upon retirement? At what age? Read the rest of this entry »

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Annuity eligibility

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Q. I was just hired by the VA (NTE only lasting 2 months, Excepted) at age 58. How long must I work before I am eligible for a monthly pension? How long must I work before I am eligible to keep retirement thrift plan? How long must I stay before I am eligible for retirement medical benefits?  I am assuming that I will find a permanent job but does this NTE time count toward something? Read the rest of this entry »

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