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

Q. I am a federal employee with a TSP (Traditional). In addition, I currently own a Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, while my wife owns a Roth IRA. This year, it looks like our combined income (MAGI) will likely exceed the threshold for the standard approach to contribute to our Roth IRAs. I have seen strategies to use the backdoor approach, but it will require smartly transferring my traditional IRA to TSP to avoid a large conversion taxes. My traditional IRA has a nondeductible basis of $12,000 and $78,000 of earnings. As I understand from research, I could transfer the $78,000…

Q. The beneficiaries of my TSP account are nonspousal relatives. What are their options upon my death? Have the recently enacted changes to TSP withdrawals affected any options? I was told by a TSP telephone representative that they could establish TSP beneficiary accounts, which would allow a monthly payment plan that would provide them benefits until their TSP accounts were depleted. However, I thought I had read somewhere that withdrawals of nonspousal relatives had to be completed within five years, but maybe that applies to IRAs.   

Q. The TSP web site says that for 2018 the “maximum elective deferral” is $18,500. Does this refer only to the employee’s own pre-tax contributions from his/her paycheck? Or does it also include agency automatic or matching contributions? I thought agency contributions plus the “maximum elective deferral” are subject to a much higher “annual addition limit” – $55,000 for 2018. However, someone recently said that agency contributions are, indeed, included in the $18,500 limit. Can you please clarify?

Q. I have 21 years of service in a covered law enforcement position. I have been offered a job with a large government contractor. I am 53 years old. I also have purchased back eight years of military service. By reading thru your FAQs I see I can get the Social Security Supplement until I reach the age of 57. When I retire is it better to roll my TSP over into the new job’s 401(k), or leave it alone and simply start a new one with my new employer? A. It’s hard to find a 401(k) plan that compares favorably…

Q. I am 74 years old and currently have TSP funds in the amount of $140,000 in the G Fund. Should I allocate about $30,000 or so in one of the riskier funds? I would like for my TSP to grow larger but am a little apprehensive about losing money if I move it. I didn’t start investing in the TSP until the last 15 years of government service. I only take out the RMD each year.

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