By Mike Miles
May 9th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I will most likely be medically separated from the military next year after 25 years of service. I have bone cancer that is incurable but manageable — 50 percent life expectancy is 10 years. I am 47, so if I live 10 years, I would be 57 and still ineligible to withdrawal my Thrift Savings Plan. Are there exceptions for terminal disease that allow you to withdraw early without penalty?
A. The list of available exemptions appears on Page 7 of the notice at https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf.
March 19th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am below the age for Thrift Savings Plan withdrawal without penalty (soon to be 50), but it looks like I will be out on workers’ compensation under permanent disability shortly. Due to the impact on my income and an ongoing issue, I need to make a withdrawal or close my TSP to continue meeting my obligations. I have thoroughly researched the issue of using a TSP but have little choice. A loan is not an option (I’m paying one off and, if I’m on disability, I can’t take one out). And I’ve looked into other avenues, to include financial planners, with no success. Without focusing on the 10 percent penalty, how can I submit for my account funds? Although I am vested with more than 22 years, do the age criteria prohibit access to any funds that are not your own contributions? Due to the previous loan, is it impossible to access these funds to avoid a more onerous financial situation? I have an amount that would make us able to live on the disability funds. Is this a simple matter of age and letter of the law?
A. As soon as you are separated from federal service, you may request a distribution of some or all of your TSP funds. Before you separate, you may request a hardship withdrawal if you can qualify, or you could take a loan and then fail to pay it back, which will result in a distribution.
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.
August 22nd, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I have five years at the Veterans Affairs Department and 4½ years at the Transportation Security Administration and am about to be suspended/terminated (FERS). Being non-military, can I leave my Thrift Savings Plan and FERS with the government without penalty or roll over to Vanguard since I am not 56? I have more work time in the private sector than with the government.
A. You may maintain and manage your TSP account for as long as you live. You may also roll your TSP money over to an IRA and close your account after you separate, without penalty, regardless of your age.
August 20th, 2012 | Uncategorized
Q. I am 57 years old with 25 years of Veterans Affairs Department service. I plan to leave federal service in April 2013. I would like to resign and postpone my FERS annuity until I reach 60 years old. I would like to start withdrawing from my Thrift Savings Plan soon after resignation. Is this possible to start withdrawals after separation, or must one be in a retired federal service status before starting TSP withdrawals?
A. You may start withdrawals after your separation from service.
November 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized
Q: I am an employee (Federal Employees Retirement System) at a BRAC-ed installation. Sometime around September 2011, I will be fired. At 56 years old — the age at which I’ll have 29 years’ service — I can retire. I would like to cash in my Thrift Savings Plan (approximately $156,000), collect on my rolled-over leave ($54,000), collect on 50 percent of my sick leave ($17,000), collect my $25,000 and pay off all my debt. I’ll live on my pension and offset. Can I take out all my TSP funds, and what is the tax bite if I should do so?
A: Since you’ll be separating from FERS service during or following the year in which you reach age 55, you’ll be able to withdraw funds from your TSP account without penalty. The amount you withdraw will be added to your tax return as ordinary income. The tax you pay will depend upon your tax return for the year in which you take the withdrawal.