Your Uniformed Services TSP Account: A Sweet Deal That Just Got Sweeter

Written by Cloud Spurlock, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board | October 2, 2019

Written by Cloud Spurlock, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board | October 2, 2019

When we talk about retirement planning, we tend to focus on the time we spend accumulating savings during our working years. It’s equally important to keep an eye on how you’ll access and spend your savings when you become eligible. Here’s some great news for participants in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP): the TSP just rolled out big changes that offer flexible withdrawal options to all accounts.

TSP basics

Having access to the TSP for your retirement savings is a great benefit available to all service members. Much like a 401(k) plan that many private corporations offer their employees, the TSP provides automatic savings from payroll and traditional (pre-tax) and Roth (after tax) options to make tax-advantaged saving easy. The TSP’s low-cost investments help you maximize how much your savings can grow.

If you’re on track to receive a traditional military pension, the TSP serves as an opportunity to supplement your retirement income. If you’re in the Blended Retirement System, the TSP is an essential component of your benefits package because your service will match your TSP contributions up to 5% of basic pay each pay period.

Flexible withdrawal options

The recent changes to withdrawal options add long-term value to your TSP account. They fall into several categories and ensure that you’ll have access to your money when you need it without having to give up the smart investment choices you get with the TSP.

  • After you separate from service, you can take multiple post-separation partial withdrawals. In certain circumstances such as your age or the type of money you withdraw, these payments may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty tax.
  • If you're 59½ or older and still in the uniformed services, you can take up to four in-service withdrawals each year.
  • You can choose whether a withdrawal should come from your Roth balance, your traditional balance, or a proportional mix of both. If you made tax-exempt contributions from combat pay, your withdrawals will still include proportional amounts of taxable and nontaxable money.
  • If you're a separated participant, you can take monthly, quarterly, or annual installment payments.
  • You can stop, start, or make changes to your installment payments at any time.
  • You initiate withdrawals with enhanced online tools after logging into the secure My Account section of tsp.gov.
  • You no longer need to make a full withdrawal election after you turn 70½ and are separated from federal service. You will still need to receive IRS required minimum distributions (RMDs).

Find out more

When making financial decisions, it’s always a good idea to talk to a qualified financial advisor. If you’re active duty, you can consult a Personal Financial Manager or Counselor. You can also find updated information and publications on tsp.gov, including the booklet Managing Your Account for Members of the Uniformed Services (pdf) and Important Tax Information About Payments From Your TSP Account (pdf). Follow the TSP on Facebook and YouTube, and stay tuned for a new retirement resource package from Military Saves in December 2019.


As original work produced by the U.S. government, the text of this article is not subject to copyright and exists in the public domain.

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