Ask The Experts: Money Matters

By Mike Miles

TSP risk

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Q. I am 25 and just started my TSP and want to invest in a very risky fund. What would be best for risky? Or should I take a different approach or is risky fine for someone my age? I am a risk-taker in life. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pension eligibility

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Q. I have a friend who resigned from civil service in 2004 (after 20+ years). He then took all his TSP fund, closed the account and rolled it over into an IRA. He will be 60 in 2014 and he heard that he might be able to collect a retirement pension from the federal government (GS-5) in 2016 when he is 62. Is he eligible for pension and is the retirement contributions and TSP the same? Since he took his TSP funding, will that make him ineligible to collect a pension? What is the retirement contribution? Read the rest of this entry »

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USERRA and new job

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Q. I have a USERRA question. I have been an IRS employee on LWOP for two years to perform military service. During this two years I contributed 5 percent of my would-be IRS salary to TSP. I was offered and accepted a civilian position with the Navy. Can you please advise me if I am entitled to agency matching contributions on my TSP contributions when I start my new Navy job without ever returning to IRS? I understand the IRS and Navy may be considered separate employers; my hope rests on a return to federal service, regardless of the agency, counting as returning to my original employer so I can collect the matching contributions. Read the rest of this entry »

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TSP deposits for 2015

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Q. My wife works for the federal government and in the next two years will retire at 60 with 27 years of service. We have been trying to max out her TSP and catch up contributions. We have made deposits per your advice of $673 and $211 for regular contribution and catch-up. However, as I look at the calendar for 2015, it appears that there will be 27 deposits due to the way the holidays fall at the beginning and end of the year. Should contributions be adjusted based on 27 deposits vs. 26 to ensure limits are not exceeded, or am I missing something?

A. The deposits should be adjusted for the actual number of pay periods during the year.

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Maximum contribution

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Q. I am in the National Guard and I am a civil service employee. Is the annual maximum contribution for the TSP the combination of the two, or is it for each individual account? Can I contribute in 2014 $17,500 to my Guard TSP, then $17,500 to my civilian TSP account as well?

A. Unless there is a special exception for Guard pay, the limit is combined.

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Withdrawal penalty?

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Q. I recently retired under CSRS. I am 57. I would like to take a partial withdrawal from my TSP. What penalties and taxes will I have to pay on the amount I withdraw.

A. As long as you retired during or after the year in which you reached age 55, there will be no early withdrawal penalty due. There will be 20 percent mandatory withholding taken from your payment, however, unless you roll the money over directly to an IRA.

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Moving money into TSP

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Q. I understand I am allowed to roll or transfer other 401′s or Roth IRA’s into TSP, but can I just invest money saved in traditional savings accounts into my TSP?

A. While you may transfer certain qualified tax-deferred retirement assets into the TSP, Roth IRA and taxable savings are not eligible.

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Default on TSP loan

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Q. I am three years away from retiring (active-duty military officer) and have some credit card debt I would like to pay off before leaving active duty. I am not eligible for a TSP hardship withdrawal because of my income. What would happen if I take out a TSP loan and intentionally not pay it back? I understand I would be responsible for it becoming a taxable distribution and a 10 percent early withdrawal fee, but would there be any other negative effects against me or my credit? Would it even be ethical? Read the rest of this entry »

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TSP annuity

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Q. My question has to do with choosing to withdraw my TSP account upon retirement. I understand I can leave my balance with the government and either choose equal payments for my expected lifespan or have the government purchase an annuity on my behalf. What I do not understand is the difference between choosing equal payments for the rest of my life and purchasing an annuity solely for myself? What are the pros and cons for each? I also don’t understand why I am also given a choice to choose a survivor benefit with my wife as the beneficiary should I decide on the annuity available through the government. If I die before my wife, isn’t she entitled to my TSP balance regardless if I choose the equal monthly payout or the annuity? Since she is the beneficiary of my TSP remaining balance, why should I even consider purchasing an annuity with a survivor benefit when this will have the effect of reducing my monthly pay? She will get the remaining TSP balance should I die anyway, won’t she? I also would like to know  if I choose either option for withdrawing my TSP retirement funds, do I retain control of the balance? Can I still move the money around from the C, S, and I funds in order to sustain the longevity of my retirement account? Read the rest of this entry »

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Rollover limit

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Q. I know partial withdrawals are limited to one in retirement under TSP. Does this apply to rollovers as well? I want to top off my marginal federal tax bracket each year until I hit 70-½ by doing a TSP rollover of a varying amount to my existing external Roth account. If I have to use the monthly payment option to do it, it’s just too much trouble.

A. Only one lump-sum TSP withdrawal or rollover is allowed per lifetime.

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