Author Mike Miles

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

If you are a Thrift Savings Plan participant, do yourself a favor and ignore your personal rate of return. This nearly useless piece of information is provided by the TSP in your quarterly statements. While you might find this number interesting, it tends to draw your attention away from important information. Your personal rate of return, or PROR, is a number that pretends to quantify the performance of your TSP account over the most recent 12 calendar months. Unfortunately, there are a number of problems with this statistic that make it useless at best and dangerous to use at worst.

Q. I plan to retire at 62 and claim the (higher) 50 percent on my husband’s Social Security. My husband is 72 and plans to continue working. We file jointly. Since he is older than 72, his earnings are not affected, but because I plan to retire at 62, what is considered the “annual limit” before we are penalized by having $1 deducted for each $2 earned? Should I continue working with a gross income of approximately $50,000; and max out my TSP contributions, including catch-up, plus max out my health savings account (my net salary would be approximately $12,000 after Medicare taxes, etc.)?…

Q. I am currently serving in the Army. I have completed five years of service and have been contributing 5 percent into my traditional TSP account. One-hundred percent of my contributions are going into the G Fund. What fund or percentage of funds would you recommend? I am already a staff sergeant and will serve at least 20 years. I am also aware of the changes to TSP matching for military members and the reduction to retirement percentage that will happen if I elect to defer my legacy plan.

Q. I am 38 years old and I have seven years in the system. I plan to purchase a new home this year as my primary residence. I am considering taking out a TSP residential loan to increase my down payment. What are the pros and cons of the TSP residential loan? Is the interest paid back to the loan going into my TSP account? Are there any tax repercussions?

Q. I am a CSRS annuitant, having worked and paid into retirement for 34 years and retired now for six years, drawing pension. My wife is a paid-up Social Security contributor, who just turned 62. Aside from the question of when she would choose to initiate Social Security benefits, we have a question: We have been advised by a financial planner that the Government Pension Offset rules will reduce any Social Security benefits she can claim by two-thirds of our CSRS pension from my career. It seems there would be no reduction of her Social Security, but only of any Social…

Q. I will be 70½ in October 2017, and I understand I will be required to take my first required minimum distribution from my non-TSP IRAs in 2017, or wait until April 2018 and take two RMDs (the one for 2017 and the one for 2018). However, since I am still a federal employee and will remain so until I retire on Jan. 5, 2018, I believe I will not have to take a TSP RMD for 2017, so I will only need to take a single RMD from TSP in 2018. Is that correct?

Q. I am covered under the FERS and plan to retire at the end of April 2017 at age 57 with 33 years of service. I intend to take out a TSP general purpose loan just prior to retirement to pay off some debt and then employ a combination withdrawal strategies for the remaining balance: TSP monthly payments, partial lump sum (paid to me) and a rollover to an qualified IRA. I want the monthly payments to start as soon as possible but delay the lump sum and rollover to occur in 2018. Is this a sound plan? Can the…

Q. I am 69 (I will be 70 on July 5, so I will be 70½ on Jan. 5, 2018). I am doing my homework about taking my required minimum distribution amount from my only IRA. If I take the minimum amount next year (2018) and find that later on I need to take a bit more than the required minimum amount, will I be able to change what I elect to take at 70½? Or is that the set amount forever and can’t be changed?

Q. I was told in mediation that my 6-month-old, 15-year residential TSP loan of $300/month ($42,000) does not get considered as debt in figuring division of assets. This TSP debt was to acquire our principal residence that is without bank lien and will be granted to her. Am I required to pay this monthly debt on my TSP without some sort of concession on the part of my spouse?

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