By Mike Miles
April 2nd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am 60 years old and, for seven years, have been separated from 21 years of federal service. I have never made any withdrawals from my Thrift Savings Plan account. I am interested in making a partial withdrawal for home improvement projects. I understand a one-time partial withdrawal leaving the rest in TSP for later is allowed, but does one-time mean that if I make a one-time partial withdrawal now, I will not be allowed to make a full withdrawal of the remaining money later when I am fully retired to perhaps pay off the mortgage? Will I only be allowed monthly payments?
A. You are allowed one partial withdrawal and one full withdrawal, which may be taken as a lump sum of your entire remaining balance or as a series of monthly payments, which may then terminate in a withdrawal of the remainder.
March 11th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I have a general purpose loan and am planning to retire soon. If I choose not to repay the loan and take a tax distribution, will I still be entitled to make one partial withdrawal after retirement? Or will the unpaid balance of the loan be considered my one-time partial withdrawal?
A. The unpaid loan does not count as your partial withdrawal.
March 11th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I retired Dec. 29 at the age of 70 years and five months. I plan to take my Thrift Savings Plan money out, according to the Internal Revenue Service required minimum distribution table, which I understand I must begin no later than April 1, 2014, the year after the year I turn 70½. However, I may decide to take my one partial withdrawal, as well, and at the latest possible time. I’m pretty sure I read that I must make that withdrawal option effective by Dec. 31, 2013, the year I turn 70½, but now I can’t come up with that reference in writing. Can you verify that is the case? And if it is, do I need to begin the monthly payments at the same time?
A. There is no deadline for making the partial withdrawal.
February 20th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am an air traffic controller who is retiring in two months at age 48. I have an outstanding Thrift Savings Plan loan for about $9,000. What happens if I don’t pay this off before I retire? Do I pay the 10 percent penalty, along with it being shown as income? Does this affect my monthly withdrawal from TSP using the 72(t) rule? Also, can I take a one-time partial lump-sum withdrawal and pay the 10 percent penalty without it affecting my monthly withdrawal?
A. If you don’t repay the loan within the grace period after you retire, it will be declared a taxable distribution and you will owe penalty and taxes on the income. This does not affect your ability to initiate monthly distribution payments to satisfy the 72(t) rules on the remaining balance. Taking a partial withdrawal does not impair your ability to take automatic monthly distributions, which are considered a form of full withdrawal.
February 18th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I appreciated your Feb. 4 article concerning the advantages of the Thrift Savings Plan vs. more costly private products. I am unclear, however, about the options (and their advisability) when it comes time to retire from federal service. Recognizing that rules allow distribution without penalty at 59½ and require some distribution from any IRA at 70, is continuation in the TSP an option which would allow the retiree to access the account as desired, or must the TSP account be moved to a private instrument?
A. I have written about this topic on more than one occasion. You may not access your TSP account at will. But you may maintain your TSP account for life, within the TSP’s rules. As an alternative to rolling the account over to any IRA, which is a painful thing to have to do, you may want to consider a one-time partial withdrawal to create an accessible fund outside of the TSP, and then a series of automatic monthly withdrawals to maintain that fund over time. The amount of the monthly withdrawals may be changed once each year to adjust to changing needs. This method takes some careful planning, but it may be worth the effort in the long run. I manage this system of withdrawals for many of my clients as a usual part of the planning and management process.
December 3rd, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. Can a retiree withdraw money from the Thrift Savings Plan more than once? How many times?
A. You are allowed one partial withdrawal and one full withdrawal per lifetime. The full withdrawal can be taken as a series of monthly payments, which you can terminate with a lump sum distribution of the remainder. The withdrawal limits are clearly explained at www.tsp.gov.
July 31st, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I’m 52 and a recently retired FERS law enforcement officer. I plan to leave my Thrift Savings Plan alone for at least two more years ($500k+ balance) and then do a 72T Substantially Equal Periodic Payment withdrawal. However, I may need approximately $30K to $40K, probably in 2014, before I do the 72T SEPP withdrawal. Would it be better to do the one-time partial TSP withdrawal, or withdraw from my Roth IRA contributions (tax-free)? I have approximately $140K in the Roth.
A. This is really a question for your tax preparer after a look at some pro forma returns for the relevant years. In general, however, I recommend that you leave your TSP account in tact for as long as possible, unless there is a clear advantage to doing otherwise.
May 9th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. As a federal law enforcement officer facing mandatory retirement in 2013, I have been looking closely at my Thrift Savings Plan withdrawal options. When I retire and I leave my complete TSP balance in the G Fund, can I request withdrawals whenever I want and for whatever amount I want?
I see that there are options for setting up a recurring amount each month or year, but can that be changed to month to month or whenever it is needed? For example, because receiving my full retirement pension amount in a timely manner will most assuredly not happen, would I be able to request a lump sum from TSP the month I retire and then wait a couple of months to see how things go, then request a recurring withdrawal every month for a while? And then, if I deem I don’t need extra money for a couple of months, stop the monthly payouts?
I do not want to buy an annuity. I just want to know how flexible I can be in withdrawing from the TSP.
A. You may take one partial withdrawal from the TSP during your lifetime. In addition to this partial withdrawal, you may take a full withdrawal, either as a lump sum or a series of monthly payments that either deplete your account or end in a final lump-sum withdrawal. You may change the amount of fixed monthly payments once each year, in January. Your question is answered in more detail at www.tsp.gov.
November 10th, 2009 | Uncategorized
Q: I am a federal employee under the Federal Employees Retirement System. In the year and month of my retirement, I will have about $170,000 in my Thrift Savings Plan. In the year of my retirement, can I do a one time withdrawal of $30,000 and not request a monthly withdrawal that year, and then the following year of my retirement start my monthly withdrawals?
A: Yes, if you have not used up your one-time partial withdrawal prior to taking the $30,000 withdrawal.
— Mike Miles