Q. If I agree to make Substantially Equal Periodic Payments available under Internal Revenue Service code section 72(t) from my TSP, may I do so before I retire and avoid the 10 percent penalty? If it matters, I am a federal law enforcement officer who will have 25 years of service before age 50.

A. No, since you’re not allowed to initiate monthly payments before you retire. The 72(t)-compliant distributions will avoid the early withdrawal penalty whenever they are initiated, however.


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Mike Miles is a Certified Financial Planner licensee and principal adviser for Variplan LLC, an independent fiduciary in Vienna, Virginia. Email your financial questions to and view his blog at

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