Ask The Experts: Money Matters

By Mike Miles

TSP withdrawal payment options

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Q. I am an air traffic controller who will be forced to retire in May 2016 when I turn 56 with 28½ years of service time. If I retire anytime between Jan. 1, 2015 (the year I turn 55) and May 2016, will I be able to take out a lump sum and monthly payments from my Thrift Savings Plan without the 10 percent tax penalty? Do I have to follow the life expectancy requirement for receiving monthly payments, or am I free to set the payment amount as I wish and adjust it once a year?

A. Since you are separating from service during or after the calendar year in which you reach age 55, your TSP withdrawals after you separate will be exempt from the early withdrawal penalty.

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Mandatory retirement and TSP withdrawal

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Q: I am a firefighter about to be forced to retire at 57 years old because of the mandatory retirement age. I plan on taking out my Thrift Savings Plan earnings to buy my house when I retire. Do I still have to pay the 10 percent penalty for withdrawing from my TSP before turning 59 1/2 even though I was forced to retire because of my age?

A: Because you are retiring during or after the year in which you reach age 55, your subsequent TSP withdrawals will not be subject to the early withdrawal penalty.

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