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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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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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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TSP transfer

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Q. My husband and I are looking at investing into a new hotel being built. I have worked in the hotel industry for 15 years, and this is a great opportunity for us. He has been active duty in the Air Force since 2011 and has roughly $20,000 in his TSP. Can he transfer his TSP balance to a Self Direct IRA to invest the money into the hotel deal? Are there penalties involved? He would continue his normal contributions to the TSP account as we move forward, but we are interested in using the $20,000 to invest in the hotel.

A. He may if he’s aged 59-1/2 or older.

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TSP withdrawal

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Q. I will be 70 in February 2016 and plan to retire and take all my money out of my TSP. I am a single divorced woman and do have monthly security for which I have been paying taxes. Can I take all my money out, as I have calculated that the $1,000 I am from Social Security is not enough for my expenses as I have calculated it.

A. Yes, you may take all of your money out. Use form TSP-70.

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TSP participation

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Q. I recently lost a high-paying private sector job. I may be getting a much lower-paying federal job. The only way I can make it is to cash out of my 401(k) about $35,000 to pay off debts. But I was thinking if I get the federal job, how long before I can participate in the TSP? And how long before I could take out a loan? Read the rest of this entry »

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