Monthly Archives: May, 2012

Adjusting TSP

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Q. I plan on retiring in 2014 but would like to leave my Thrift Savings Plan alone unless I need it or until I turn 59 (which would be 2015). I’m looking at around $180,000 to draw from. I think I would like to start with a small amount, say $500 a month, to see how that works until my Social Security kicks in at 66. Is there any problem adjusting the monthly amount I would want? A. You may adjust your monthly payment amount once each year, in January.

TSP calculator

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Q. I’ve been doing some estimates for retirement with the TSP calculator. I plan on leaving my money in G Fund after retirement, and for interest, I’ve been putting 3 percent. Is that a conservative enough amount? A. The calculator is unrealistic in that: 1. It assumes that a constant rate of investment return will be earned each and every year, like clockwork; 2. You can predict what this rate will be; 3. You know how long you’re going to live; 4. Inflation isn’t a factor. Each of these assumptions is absurd. I think that the calculator is, at best,…

Deductions in final close-out check

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Q. If I retire at the end of August, and had not previously taken advantage of TSP catch-up, can I max out the tax benefit by having the balance of my annual allowable TSP contribution limit, plus the full retirement catch-up amount all taken out of the last close-out check for unused annual leave and sick leave? I’m in senior-level service, so I get 50 percent of unused sick leave.) A. You may set your Thrift Savings Plan deferral amount as high as you like, within the limits of your paycheck amount. Once the annual deferral limit, including catch-up, is…

TSP and rehire

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Q. I am leaving my career-conditional federal service for a job in private industry after just over three years.  The value of the account is rather small, but I was able to vest for the match. I have not ruled out returning to the service at a later time because I am still in my early 20s. If I were to take the cash option and then subsequently wish to re-enroll in the Thrift Savings Plan in the event I become federal again, would I have to repay this amount plus any interest that would have accrued to get back in…

Tax withholdings and TSP withdrawal

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Q. I will be taking the early-out in July. I have been a postmaster for 24 years, and I am 55½ years old. I have plans to withdraw my Thrift Savings Plan. Will there be any penalties, and will taxes be taken out? A. There will be penalty for early withdrawal. You’ll find the tax withholding requirements on Page 3 of this notice: https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-536.pdf.

Clarification on moving IRA to TSP

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Q. You wrote, “the presence of the G Fund allows you to configure portfolios that produce risk/return characteristics that are superior to those available anywhere else.” I’m not aware that you could configure your own portfolio in the Thrift Savings Program, other than the index funds and L funds. Are you saying one shouldn’t own even no-load, low-fee mutual funds, more narrowly targeted than broad index funds, in an IRA? A. I was referring to configuring a portfolio using the five basic TSP funds. I know of no reason to use anything other than low-cost index funds for retirement investing.…

TSP withdrawal

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Q. I am 60 years old and plan on working until I’m 66. Can I take a first-time homebuyer loan from my Thrift Savings Plan as a down payment? If so, what form would I fill out? Do you happen to know how long it takes to get the money? Would I have to pay it back to the fund? Is there a penalty? I would not be taking any other payments out at this time. A. You may take a loan from your TSP, which must be repaid, or it will be declared a taxable distribution. You’ll find the…

TSP vs. Roth IRA

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Q. I’m 27 and contribute 5 percent of my income to the Thrift Savings Plan, which I have in the C and I funds. I’m considering opening a Roth IRA, as well as investing in an aggressive growth mutual fund. Would I be better off just increasing my TSP contributions? A. If you insist on long-shot betting — making bets that are more likely to lose than to win — you’ll have to go outside TSP. If you want an aggressive investment that maximizes your risk-adjusted expected returns, try the TSP’s S Fund.

Transferring to a variable or fixed annuity

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Q. What would be the advantage or disadvantage to a retiree of transferring their TSP to a variable and/or fixed annuity? What are the issues to look for, if any? A. The main disadvantage of variable and deferred annuities is their high cost. The main disadvantage of a fixed immediate annuity, in the current environment, is a low payout rate. I don’t know a universal advantage to a variable or deferred annuity. The advantage of an immediate fixed annuity is guaranteed income for life.

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