Ask The Experts: Money Matters

By Mike Miles

Retirement allocation

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Q. I am federal employee who transferred from CSRS to FERS in October 1998, and I have 37 years of federal service at age 66. Planning retirement within the next year, and I would like to ask your opinion about my TSP allocation which is G Fund at 35 percent, F Fund at 10 percent, C Fund at 35 percent, S Fund at 8 percent and I Fund at 12 percent. Is this an allocation to keep when I retire? Read the rest of this entry »

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USERRA and new job

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Q. I have a USERRA question. I have been an IRS employee on LWOP for two years to perform military service. During this two years I contributed 5 percent of my would-be IRS salary to TSP. I was offered and accepted a civilian position with the Navy. Can you please advise me if I am entitled to agency matching contributions on my TSP contributions when I start my new Navy job without ever returning to IRS? I understand the IRS and Navy may be considered separate employers; my hope rests on a return to federal service, regardless of the agency, counting as returning to my original employer so I can collect the matching contributions. Read the rest of this entry »

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SRS offset

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Q. My job will end and I plan to retire Dec. 28. I am eligible for discontinued service retirement. At the time I submit my paperwork (approximately August/September of this year), I also plan to submit my request to withdraw a lump sum out of TSP and then set up monthly withdrawals. I will be one month short of my MRA which under Discontinued Service Retirement is not an issue except when I will be eligible to supplement all of this retirement income – FERS annuity/TSP withdrawals – with the special retirement supplement. Not a big deal … I can wait the month or so to have this kick in. So I thought! Read the rest of this entry »

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TSP after separation

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Q. If I separate from government service after 10 years at age 35, can I withdraw a chunk of my TSP and ask for annuity payments of 10 years or more to avoid the withdrawal penalties?

A. In order to withdraw without penalty, you must meet one of the exceptions listed on Page 7 of the notice at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf.

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Monthly withdraw

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Q. I would like to take $3,000 monthly from my TSP when I retire for the first few years, then I start collecting Social Security can I reduce my monthly payment? Then later on change the monthly amount again? I thought I read I can change my TSP payment once a year, but have been hearing from others who have retired you only have a choice of lump sum, annuity, partial lump sum and the rest in monthly payments of your choice, but it stays the same for life. Read the rest of this entry »

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Early withdrawal

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Q. I have been working under federal Law enforcement for seven years. I started when I was 21. So at age 46, I will have 25 years of law enforcement. If I retire at 46, can I have access to my TSP, and what are my choices for withdrawals or the penalties to take out?

A. You’ll have access to the usual partial (Form TSP-77) and full (Form TSP-70) withdrawal options as soon as you retire. Unless you meet one of the exceptions listed on Page 7 of the notice at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf, your TSP withdrawals will be subject to the early withdrawal penalty until you reach age 59-1/2.

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TSP deposits for 2015

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Q. My wife works for the federal government and in the next two years will retire at 60 with 27 years of service. We have been trying to max out her TSP and catch up contributions. We have made deposits per your advice of $673 and $211 for regular contribution and catch-up. However, as I look at the calendar for 2015, it appears that there will be 27 deposits due to the way the holidays fall at the beginning and end of the year. Should contributions be adjusted based on 27 deposits vs. 26 to ensure limits are not exceeded, or am I missing something?

A. The deposits should be adjusted for the actual number of pay periods during the year.

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What’s considered earned income

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Q. Can you please provide a citation to your assertion that an annual leave payout is not considered earned income and cannot serve as the basis for IRA contributions?

A. See the sections on what is, and what is not, compensation on Page 8 of IRS Publication 590. I believe it is considered deferred compensation, but in the end, how you should proceed is a question for your tax preparer.

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TSP contributions

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Q. I’m 23 and recently began my FERS career with the government this past May. I contribute 5 percent of my income and plan on increasing the amount by 1 percent every year and 2 percent every GS level increase. What would be the best spread across the five basic funds for someone willing to work 40+ years in government service with a moderate amount of risk? Additionally, is there a limit where increasing the percentage beyond a certain point (besides the $52,000 yearly max) begins to yield diminishing returns when compared to other investment methods? Finally are there any other avenues of investment you recommend I pursue? Read the rest of this entry »

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TSP withdrawals for firefighters

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Q. I read an article that says law enforcement and firefighters have to pay a 10 percent penalty if withdrawing prior to age 59-1/2. In 2019, I will have 25 years of federal firefighter service, so I was caught off guard. Can you site a regulation that says federal firefighters do not have to pay the 10 percent penalty and can begin withdrawing immediately upon retiring with years and/or age requirements met?

A. Under current law, your service time and status is irrelevant. Unless you retire during or after the year in which you reach age 55, or qualify for one of the other exceptions listed on Page 7 of the notice at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf, you will be subject to the early withdrawal penalty until you reach age 59-1/2.

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