By Mike Miles
April 24th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. My age is 52. I worked 22 years in the Postal Service. I have a Thrift Savings Plan account and am now retired due to a disability. If I make a full withdrawal, will I be penalized?
A. Yes, unless you qualify for one of the exceptions listed on Page 7 of the notice at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf.
April 22nd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. When I retire, I will be 59½ and will have 30 years of service at the Postal Service. I will not have any earned income from that point on. I understand federal and state taxes will be taken out of my FERS annuity and any money I take out of my Thrift Savings Plan. Will I also have Social Security deducted from these two sources? Also, will my special retirement supplement and — when I turn 62, my SSI benefit — also be subject to federal and state taxes?
A. Mike: Your TSP withdrawals are subject to income taxation, but no employment taxes, like Social Security, Medicare or unemployment insurance.
Reg: Your special retirement supplement will be treated as ordinary income. To find out to what extent your Social Security will be taxable, see IRS Publication 721.
April 22nd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I retired at age 52 from the Postal Service. When can I fully withdraw my money without a penalty? If I decide to receive monthly checks, when can I begin receiving them without any penalties?
A. Unless you qualify for one of the exceptions listed on Page 7 of the notice at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf, you’ll have to wait until you reach age 59½ to avoid the early withdrawal penalty.
March 19th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a letter carrier, age 52, started in 1985 and have 28 years of creditable service.
If I understand what I’ve gleaned from the posts here and the Postal Service were to offer me a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority this year,
1. Would I begin my annuity immediately?
2. Would I have no reductions in calculations of my annuity? (average high-3 x 1 percent x 28)
3. Would I receive credit for half of my sick leave and all of my annual leave? (How are these applied?)
4. Would I receive the special retirement supplement beginning at age 56 (my minimum retirement age), and receive it until I reach age 62?
5. Would I be able to continue carrying my current health and life insurance at non-USPS rates? (I couldn’t find how long these could be carried. Until death?)
6. Could I begin receiving Social Security as early as age 62?
7. Any withdrawal from my Thrift Savings Plan prior to age 59½ would be penalized 10 percent as per Internal Revenue Service regulations? (Can I continue to contribute to TSP after retirement?)
8. As a FERS annuitant, is there no limit to what I can earn after separation from the Postal Service as it pertains to my annuity payment?
9. At age 56 (my MRA), the special retirement supplement from Social Security would begin and would be subject to yearly income limits. Would supplement payments be reduced by approximately $1 for every $2 I earned above that year’s Social Security income limit?
10. At age 65, I’d be eligible for Medicare parts A and B? (Would this affect my health insurance coverage through Federal Employees Health Benefits?)
11. Would there be cost-of-living increases at any point for my annuity?
12. Is there a date during the year that maximizes the benefits of retirement?
Did I get this right, and are there any other things I should know before considering a VERA if it is offered?
A. Reg: 1. Yes.
3. Yes. Half of your unused hours of sick leave would be added to any hours of service that were left over when your annuity was computed. Any additional months created would increase the amount of your annuity. Any unused annual leave would be paid to you in a lump sum at your current hourly rate.
5. Yes. And those enrollments would continue until your death.
Mike: 7. You will be subject to the early withdrawal penalty until you reach age 59½ unless you can qualify for one of the exceptions listed on Page 7 of the notice: https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf. You may not contribute to the TSP after you retire, but you may transfer eligible balances into the TSP from other retirement accounts such as IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc.
Tags: 401(k), 403(b), age, annual leave, annuity, catch-up contributions, cost-of-living adjustment, early withdrawal penalty, FERS, health insurance, income, IRA, IRS, life insurance, lump-sum, Medicare, Minimum Retirement Age, Postal Service, sick leave, Social Security, Special Retirement Supplement, TSP, VERA
March 18th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I have 27½ years in the Postal Service and I am 52½ years of age. If an early-out comes in the next few months, will I get a penalty for leaving? Do I get my special retirement supplement, or do I have to wait for that? Also, do I get to take my Thrift Savings Plan now, or do I wait for that?
A. Mike: The early-out has no effect on the Internal Revenue Service early withdrawal penalty. You will be subject to the penalty until you reach age 59½ unless you qualify for one of the exceptions listed on Page 7 of this notice: https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf
Reg: If you were offered an opportunity to retire early, you have the age and service needed to accept it. If you did, you wouldn’t be subject to the age penalty and you’d be entitled to the special retirement supplement when you reach your minimum retirement age, which is 56.
March 13th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I spent 22 years with the Postal Service and quit in 2010 to take another career. I was under FERS. Do I get a pension from the Postal Service, or is that what the Thrift Savings Plan is? And can I collect it at 55?
A. Mike: If you left FERS service before the calendar year in which you reach age 55, you will be subject to the early withdrawal penalty rules.
Reg: If you didn’t take a refund of your retirement contributions when you left, you can apply to the Office of Personnel Management for a deferred annuity at age 60.
March 11th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a 53-year-old recent retiree (I was offered a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority through the Postal Service and accepted it). Is there a penalty to move my Thrift Savings Plan account to an immediate fixed annuity? If so, what would that penalty be?
Additionally, I heard that within one year of retirement, my TSP account should be transferred to a civilian account (IRA, savings, etc.) What exactly is the time frame for that?
A. The only penalty for using your TSP account to purchase an immediate fixed annuity in retirement is that you’ll be locking in historically low interest rates for life, so be careful. You are not required to roll over your TSP account and may continue it for life. You should do everything you can to keep your money in the TSP for as long as possible, since it is superior to any other investment account you will find. Your TSP should be the last account you tap for retirement income.
January 28th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I agreed to a $20,000 retirement incentive bonus offer from the Postal Service and retired in May 2011. The first half of the bonus was paid in November 2011 and the second half in November 2012.
Today, I received a W-2 from the Postal Service describing this second half of the bonus as wages received in 2012 even though I officially retired in May 2011 and haven’t worked for them since then. (I had been assuming the bonus payment in 2012 was going to be incorporated into my CSRS retirement accounting.)
I haven’t earned any other income since I retired, but since I have “USPS wages received in 2012,” am I eligible to contribute $6,000 to my Roth IRA for 2012? And, if I had acted on this in 2012, would I have been eligible to contribute perhaps my entire $10,000 to my Thrift Savings Plan account?
A. Income that is included on your W-2 as wages qualifies as the basis for an IRA contribution, but your tax preparer is ultimately responsible for what goes on your tax return. Regular TSP contributions can only be made by payroll deferral, so if the money wasn’t included in a paycheck, you could not have contributed any of it to the TSP.
January 28th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a 52-year-old Postal Service employee and am seriously considering liquidating my TSP account. What are the penalties for this action? Would there be a less painful way to do this to lessen the amount of money I will lose?
A. The early withdrawal penalty is 10 percent of the gains in the account. The only way to avoid the penalty is to meet one of the exceptions listed on Page 7 of the notice at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf.
January 23rd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am 55 years old and in the process of obtaining Postal Service disability. I want to know the tax ramifications if I withdraw my Thrift Savings Plan at 55 after separating from service. I will have 24+ years in. I have $200,000 and want to make monthly payments, not based on life expectancy. I want to withdraw $1,000 a month at 55 for 25 years or so until it is depleted. Am I subject to any additional penalty taxes? I called TSP and the Internal Revenue Service and was told that because I am spreading the monthly payments over 10 years, they would be considered periodic payments and not subject to the 20 percent penalty tax. Is this accurate? Everyone at work thinks I have to be 59½ to avoid the penalties.
A. Your TSP distributions will be included in your tax return and taxed as ordinary income. Since you are separating from service during or after the calendar year in which you reach age 55, no early withdrawal penalty will apply.