By Mike Miles
May 9th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. If I start taking my retirement now at 62 — FERS, Thrift Savings Plan payments and Social Security — and end up being picked back up at some point in federal service: I understand my FERS benefits would be cut by the amount I make in a new job. What about TSP payments? Are they exempt from penalties of re-employment?
A. If you are rehired, your automatic monthly payments will stop and you will be subject to the in-service withdrawal rules.
March 21st, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. When retiring, can I take a large sum of my Thrift Savings Plan out before starting my monthly allotment with the remaining amount?
A. Yes, as long as you haven’t taken an age-based, in-service withdrawal before you retire.
January 28th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am 62 years old and still a federal employee (for the next several years). I am thinking of withdrawing $100,000 of the $250,000 I have invested in Thrift Savings Plan. The purpose behind this withdrawal is to save paying federal taxes on this amount. That is, we will be selling an investment property that has $100,000 in “unrealized tax losses” and we should be able to offset the taxes owed on the $100,000 TSP withdrawal with the $100,000 loss from the sale of the property.
I am confused by a statement on the TSP website that says if you make an age-based withdrawal, “you will lose the opportunity to make a partial withdrawal from your account once you are separated from federal service.” What does that mean?
After the $100,000 withdrawal, we will still have $150,000 in the TSP account. Does “losing the opportunity to make a partial withdrawal once separated from federal service” mean we can withdraw only the required yearly amount once I reach 70½ and can make no other withdrawals before that time?
Does it mean that we could not, in the future, withdraw another $75,000 if we needed/wanted it?
Does it mean we could withdraw only the whole amount ($150,000) left in the TSP account?
A. You are allowed only one partial withdrawal from your TSP account. After that, your only option is a full withdrawal, which can be in the form of monthly payments or a lump sum, or monthly payments ending in a lump sum. Before you make your age-based, in service withdrawal you should consult a CPA to make sure it will work. Your withdrawal will be considered ordinary income, and not capital gains, for tax purposes.
January 23rd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am planning on doing an age-based in-service withdrawal of all of my funds prior to retiring. I have a 10 percent contribution going into my Thrift Savings Plan account. Do I need to stop the contributions before withdrawal to make sure no more funds are put into my account after the fact? Or are they automatically turned off once my request is processed?
A. You’ll need to stop your contributions.
January 21st, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I have a friend who has been receiving workers’ compensation benefits for about 25 years but is not yet separated from service and worked under CSRS. Can he apply to the Office of Personnel Management to receive the monies in TSP in a lump-sum payment without having to retire? Or will he have to apply for disability retirement first?
A. As long as he is employed, the in-service withdrawal rules will apply.
December 14th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a FERS employee contributing to the Thrift Savings Plan. At the recommendation of a pre-retirement seminar, I am looking at a one-time in-service withdrawal of $100,000 into a Roth IRA. I realize that it will add $100,000 to income for 2012, but this is the year my husband’s business is losing money anyway. We intend to pay taxes now (presumably when they are lower, though my income will drop significantly when I retire) and not pay taxes on future earnings. Smart or dumb?
A. You shouldn’t make that move without a thorough analysis of the tax implications using pro-forma returns and consideration about what will be done with the money in the Roth IRA. This is a complex decision, and you should be careful to avoid taking “advice” from anyone with a conflict of interest in the matter. I’d stay put unless you make sure that it is in your best interests to make the move. The odds are that it will be a dumb move, but it’s possible that it could be an opportunity.
December 10th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I am 46 with 22 years of service, and have been told that I will soon receive a letter of directed reassignment to a job in my same grade far outside my commuting area. When the letter arrives, if I should decline to move to the new position, what are my options for drawing retirement? How about insurance? Severance pay? What about my 401(k) in the Thrift Savings Plan? My performance ratings are not an issue.
A. Mike: Your circumstances will not affect the usual rules that apply to your TSP account. As long as you remain employed, you will be subject to the in-service withdrawal rules described at https://www.tsp.gov/planparticipation/inservicewithdrawals/basics.shtml. If you separate from service, the rules described at https://www.tsp.gov/planparticipation/withdrawals/accountOptions.shtml will apply. If you separate from service before the calendar year in which you reach age 55, you will be subject to the Internal Revenue Service’s early withdrawal penalty unless you meet one of the exceptions specified on Page 7 of the notice at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf.
Reg: Because you wouldn’t meet the age and service requirements to retire, you’d only have one option. If you didn’t take a refund of your retirement contributions, you could apply for a deferred annuity at age 60.
You would be entitled to severance pay only if you lost your job through no fault of your own. However, if you were to resign or decline a reasonable offer, you wouldn’t. A reasonable offer is defined as one that is in the same agency, in the same commuting area, of the same tenure and work schedule, and not more than two grades or pay levels below your current position. Note: If you are covered by a mobility agreement, the reasonable offer exception wouldn’t apply.
You would be given a month of free Federal Employees Group Life Insurance and Federal Employees Health Benefits insurance coverage. At the end of that period, you could elect private life insurance coverage at your own expense. You could also elect to continue your health insurance coverage for up to 18 months under the temporary continuation of coverage provision. For that coverage you would pay 100 percent of the premiums, plus 2 percent for administrative expenses.
November 5th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I am 71 years old and employed by a university. My retirement account is with TIAA/CREF. My employer tells me that I am not required to take a required minimum distribution. What if I want to take it?
A. Ask your plan administrator whether or not they allow in-service withdrawals.
September 20th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I have the same question as I found on your site: “Q. I would like to take a portion of my Thrift Savings Plan balance and transfer it to a self-directed IRA. What is the process for doing that? What are the estimated costs and penalties? A: In your circumstances — actively employed and younger than 59½ — the TSP won’t allow this.” But I am 61 years old and in civil service for 34 years. You imply in the above answer that over 59½ might be OK. Do you recommend this, or can there be possible problems?
A. You could take an age-based, in-service withdrawal and roll it over to an IRA. The cost of doing this will be higher investment expenses and the loss of access to the G Fund. I don’t recommend this unless you have a good reason for doing it.
August 14th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I want to withdraw some money from my Thrift Savings Plan. I need transportation, home repairs and needs for my child. I have a husband who is unreliable, not responsible and does not work, and our marriage is on the rocks. Is there any way I can withdraw money from my TSP without his consent?
A. The rules depend upon your employment status, retirement system and the amount and type of withdrawal you take.
If you are still an active federal employee, spouse’s rights affect your in-service withdrawal. If you are a married FERS participant or a member of the uniformed services, your spouse must sign a consent waiver for your in-service withdrawal. If you are a married CSRS participant, the TSP must notify your spouse before the in-service withdrawal can be made. These rights apply even if you are legally separated from your spouse.
If you are separated from federal service, you should read the rules as explained on pages 13-15 of the booklet: “Withdrawing Your TSP Account After Leaving Federal Service,” which is available as a PDF at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tspbk02.pdf.