Clearing up some TSP rules


Q: I am planning to retire in the next couple of years. I will be approximately 53 years old at retirement, and I am trying to make sure that I know all the Thrift Savings Plan regulations. As I understand it, as long as a TSP participant who retires or separates from service turns 55 in the same calendar year of retirement or separation, he can make penalty-free withdrawals any time after his 55th birthday. I also understand that TSP participants who are not eligible for regular penalty-free TSP withdrawals because they retired or separated from federal service before the calendar year they became age 55 can make penalty-free withdrawals through either: (1) A TSP annuity, or (2) monthly payments computed based on the participant’s life expectancy (which must continue for the longer of 5 years or when the participant turns 59.5). Is this accurate? Also, does the above annuity exception only pertain to the TSP/Met Life annuity, or does it apply with other companies?

A: This is correct, and the exception applies to any life annuity.


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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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