Substantially equal periodic payments


Q. I already separated from federal service. I have $65,800 in my TSP account. I’m 49 years old. I want to receive substantially equal periodic payments (SEPP) until age 59 1/2 (to avoid the 10 percent penalty). I also want to be able to contribute to the TSP via IRA rollovers from time to time after age 59 1/2.

I know I can do an IRA rollover into the TSP as a separated employee, but I don’t know if I can still do a rollover into the TSP after the substantially equal periodic payments have begun. The rationale for this plan is to receive payments penalty free for 10 years, but I want to keep the TSP account for the rest of my life (because of the low fees) and have the option to add new money to the TSP via IRA rollovers from time to time if I need a place to “park” money safely later.

A. You can’t put money into, or take additional money out of, your TSP account while you are completing a series of substantially equal periodic payments without violating the rules of the series and triggering the early withdrawal penalty. After the series is complete, you may transfer money into the account.


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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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