Q. I am retiring from federal service at my MRA of 56 with 30 years of service. I plan to continue to work as a support service contractor to my federal agency. Can I withdraw money from my Thrift Savings Plan savings without penalty while I am working as a support service contractor? I know I will have to pay income tax on my withdrawals, but wanted assurance that my withdrawals will not be subject to a penalty since I meet MRA and years of service requirements. A. Under the circumstances you describe, your TSP distributions will be exempt from the…

Q. My wife has a TSP and an IRA. She starts distributions this year since she has turned 70. From what I understand, she could add the account balances from both as of Dec. 31, 2018, calculate the minimum distribution, and take the entire distribution required from one account, the TSP. She does not have to take it from both accounts, correct? A. She may not aggregate her TSP and IRA RMDs. Each must be taken from the applicable account.

Q. I know that the long-term care insurance premiums that are made available to federal employees could rise, as they did a few years ago. I thought, however, that the rates would always be the same for all federal employees who obtain that insurance. One of your columns seems to suggest that the insurance company can raise my individual rates as I get older. Is that true if I am a federal employee? Maybe you mean that once I am retired, the company can raise my individual rates, even though the company cannot raise my rates individually as long as I am…

Q. I received a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority in 2012 at the age of 53. I chose to receive a monthly installment payout from my TSP for at least 10 years, believing I would not be taxed. I received a letter of deficiency from the IRS stating that I owe a penalty for not paying taxes on my TSP installments. Is this correct? A. That’s a question for tax accountant, but if you did not follow the rules governing a Series of Substantially Equal Periodic Payments, you might owe the early withdrawal penalty. The rules are complex and you should engage a…

Q. I have been digging through the training materials released by the TSP on the new withdrawal options, but have been unable to find any guidance on when the quarterly and annual withdrawals are paid. If I change from monthly to quarterly or annual for 2020, when will I get the money? A. From the TSP website: “You should allow up to 10 days from the time you submit your completed withdrawal request until the time payment is sent. We will notify you when your payment has been disbursed. You can check My Account or call the ThriftLine to find…

Q. I retired from the U.S. Postal Service at the end of 2018 with 31 ½ years of service. I met my minimum retirement age at 56, so I believe I wouldn’t be taxed a 10 percent penalty if I withdrew from my TSP before age 59 ½. I would like to withdrawal a partial lump from my TSP. Would I be taxed for that withdrawal? A. If you receive a TSP distribution before you reach age 59 ½, in addition to the regular income tax, you may have to pay an early withdrawal penalty tax equal to 10 percent of…

Q. My husband is a retired CSRS annuitant and I’m a retired FERS annuitant. I turn 66 this year, which is my full retirement age for Social Security. I haven’t yet begun to receive SS payments or withdrawn any funds from my TSP, but would like your opinion as to leaving the TSP funds until I need to make Minimum Required Distributions. My feeling is that if I predecease him, he will not receive any of my SS, but will inherit my TSP. Our accountant thinks I should start drawing down the TSP and invest those funds, since we don’t…

Q. My financial adviser in 2014 convinced me to roll my $600,000 403(b) into an annuity. I have paid more than $48,000 in fees over the past years. I want to stop paying high fees. Do you know if it is possible to roll the annuity to my vested TSP account?  A. That was a salesperson, not an adviser. The TSP will accept a direct transfer of funds if: the money is coming from an eligible retirement plan account – IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc. – and the transferred amount contains no tax basis that you wish to claim.

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