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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com and view his blog at money.federaltimes.com.

Q. I currently have all my TSP balance ($210,000) in the L2030 Fund. I will retire in 2030, but will not be withdrawing any money (hopefully) until about 2040. I would like to move to a little more aggressive L Fund. If I move some or all of my L2030 fund balance to L2040, will I lose any money in the move? A. There is no cost assessed against your account to transfer your funds among and between the various TSP investment options.

Q. I was born in August 1953 and my wife was born in July 1954. Neither my wife nor I have filed for Social Security benefits. My wife will not qualify for benefits based on her own work record. Under the new law, am I still eligible to use the strategy known as “file and suspend” so my wife can collect spousal benefits when she turns 66? A. It is my understanding that the “file and suspend” strategy for claiming Social Security benefits is no longer allowed, regardless of your age.

Q. I have 43 years of service: 22 years under CSRS, which includes 4 years military active duty that I “ bought back,” as well as 21 years under FERS. There was no break in service. Will my 4 years of active duty, in which I paid Social Security, give me essentially 25 years of “ substantial earnings” towards the WEP provision? A. It depends upon how much you earned year. The schedule of annual earnings required to qualify as “substantial” is available at https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf. You can compare the earnings for year as listed in your Social Security benefit statement…

Q. I am a 51-year-old retired federal employee with 27 years of service. I retired on 12/31/18. I served 25 years in a covered federal law enforcement officer position, then transferred to a non-covered LEO position with another agency for the remaining two years. I do receive the LEO FERS retirement. My issue is with the TSP withdrawal options. According to the Defending Public Safety Employees Retirement Act, effective 01/01/16, any federal public safety official, such as LEO, who separate from service at age 50 or older could make penalty-free TSP withdrawals if they retire after 12/31/15. In order for…

Q. I’m trying to find out whatever happened to the additional TSP fund options (additional mutual funds offering more diversity for an additional cost) that were supposed to be offered. Also, I understand that the I Fund will be based on a new index. How will that impact it? A. I can find no official word that either of these proposals is being implemented.

Q. I retired from the military in 2009 with 20 years of active service, then entered federal service in 2009-2012. I resigned for 1.5 years due to medical, then returned to federal service in 2014 to present. So, if I depart in 2020, I would have 10 years of federal service. What is my path to collect a pension for time served and how am I impacted by the minimum retirement age? I am born in 1966. If I want to depart federal service before my MRA, can I resign and defer annuity until 62 to forego penalty? If so,…

Q. I hope to retire in 2020 under the FERS retirement system. My spouse is a school teacher, does not pay into Social Security, and is covered by the Ohio State Teachers Retirement System (STRS). Will either of us lose a substantial amount of survivor benefits when one of us passes due to the WEP or GPO? A. The windfall elimination provision does not apply to survivor’s benefits, but the government pension offset may reduce or eliminate your wife’s survivor benefit, if she survives you.

Q. I currently have a TSP account as an FERS employee, with 100 percent is in the L2040 Fund since I started almost 3 years ago. I have a long way until retirement, as I am 37 years old. Someone said I should do the “CSI,”  which would be C Fund=40 percent; S Fund=40 percent; I Fund=20 percent, but I’m not sure what that even means.  I would like to look forward to a comfortable retirement so suggestions are welcome and much appreciated! A. You should ask the “someone” whether they will take responsibility for the outcomes their advice will produce.…

Q. My understanding is that the TSP lifecycle funds do not change allocation percentages based on projected market trends and changes in risk. For example, a lifecycle fund would not increase the percent in G funds if they thought a bear market was nearing. So, if Forbes is right and a bear market looms, what is the best way to minimize loss in one’s TSP lifecycle fund? Should we drop back from lifetime expectancy L fund selection to actual expected retirement timeframe for our L fund? When is the recommended time to do this? A. Market timing is pretty simple,…

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