Thrift Savings Plan
The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Think 401k, designed to aid in the retirement savings process.
Think about the kind of life you expect to have in retirement, how long you expect to be in retirement, and what your income needs might be.
- Start by estimating a percentage of your current annual income that you think might sustain you in your retirement years.
- Then determine the extent to which you expect to rely on your TSP account for that income.
Your TSP account may be your main income source or it may be one of several sources that could include a pension, an annuity, an IRA, your Social Security payments, or other savings. You should consider all of your income sources when determining what role your TSP account will have in meeting your retirement needs.
You can rollover your TSP funds into a Traditional Fixed IRA or Annuity, which offers you several advantages:
- Security: You can create an income stream that will last your lifetime.
- Flexibility: You can establish a number of interest generating strategies and income and withdrawal options.
- Guarantees: By setting up an annuity, you can preserve your principal even in a down market.
- Growth Potential: You can continue to grow tax-deferred income.
- Income: You can establish income options that include lifetime withdrawals, immediate access or a combination of both.
You may make three types of withdrawals from your TSP: In-Service withdrawals, Age-Based withdrawals and withdrawals upon Separation or Retirement.
- Can only be made by participants who are still employed by the Federal Government.
- Can only be made for two purposes:
- Age-based in-service withdrawals for participants who are older than 59 ½
- Financial hardship in-service withdrawal for participants who can document hardship
- Cannot be repaid. Once you have made an in-service withdrawal, you cannot return or repay the money; your account balance is permanently reduced.
You can make an age-based in-service withdrawal anytime after you reach age 59½ as long as you are actively employed in Federal service.
The following conditions govern age-based withdrawals:
- You can only withdraw funds in which you are vested.
- Your withdrawal must be at least $1,000 or the entire amount of your account balance if it is less than $1,000.
- You may make only one age-based withdrawal while you are actively employed in Federal service.
- If you make an age-based withdrawal, you will not be eligible for a partial withdrawal after separation from Federal service.
The TSP Loan Program offers two types of loans:
General Purpose Loans
- May be used for any purpose according to plan guidelines
- Do not require any documentation
- Require repayment in five (5) years
- May cover financial hardship situations
- May only be used for the purchase or construction of a primary residence, which includes the following:
- Shares in a cooperative housing corporation
- Mobile home
- Recreational vehicle
- Require documentation
- Require repayment in 10 to 15 years
Note: You may have one general loan and one residential loan from your TSP account at any one time.
You are eligible for a TSP loan, if you meet the following criteria:
- You are a current employee in a pay status.
- You must have at least $1,000 in employee contributions and associated earnings in your TSP.
- The balance of your paycheck after the loan payment and other deductions must equal at least 10% of your basic pay.
- There is no court order against your TSP.
- FERS employees must obtain spousal consent.
Don’t miss out on matching contributions.
If you are a FERS employee and your contributions reach the IRS elective deferral limit before the last pay date of the year, you will not receive all of the matching contributions to which you would otherwise be entitled. Use the calculator, How much can I contribute? to ensure that you don’t leave any money on the table.
The Internal Revenue Code (I.R.C.) places limits on the dollar amount of contributions you can make to the TSP. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) calculates them every year and they can change annually. The TSP announces the limits on the TSP website and the ThriftLine as well as through its various publications when the limits become available.
Contribution Limits for 2015 and 2016
Elective Deferral Limit $18,000 IRC §402(g)
Applies to combined total of traditional and Roth contributions. For members of the uniformed services, it includes all traditional and Roth contributions from taxable basic pay, incentive pay, special pay, and bonus pay, but does not apply to traditional contributions made from tax-exempt pay earned in a combat zone.
Annual Addition Limit $53,000 IRC §415(c)
An additional limit imposed on the total amount of all contributions made on behalf of an employee in a calendar year. This limit is per employer and includes employee contributions (tax-deferred, after-tax, and tax-exempt), Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions, and Matching Contributions. For 415(c) purposes, working for multiple Federal agencies or services in the same year is considered having one employer.
Catch-up Contribution Limit $6,000 IRC §414(v)
The maximum amount of catch-up contributions that can be contributed in a given year by participants age 50 and older. It is separate from the elective deferral and annual addition limit imposed on regular employee contributions.