Vested TSP and breaks in service


Q: I am a Senior Executive Service employee with two years of active federal civilian service and 34 years of prior active military service. I have been discussing a possible opportunity wherein I would leave the federal government for a year or so and work as a contractor. I would then hope to compete for another SES position with a different agency and return to active federal civilian service.

Because I have only two years of active federal civilian service, will I lose the agency matching contributions I have received in my Thrift Savings Plan account to date if I leave active federal civilian service for a short period? Or, because of my previous federal military service, are those matching contributions already vested? My official federal service commencement date is 1974, my TSP account is above $3,500 and I plan to leave everything in the account during this possible break in civilian service. I believe that I will still earn interest on my account as my plans perform, but I am concerned about losing the agency matching funds now in my account.

A: From the TSP website: “All federal civilian service counts toward vesting in your TSP account, not just your service while you are a TSP participant. Service covered by USERRA [the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act]also counts toward vesting. If you are a [Federal Employee Retirement System] participant, your agency reports your TSP service computation date (TSP-SCD), which is used by the TSP record keeper to determine whether you are vested. Your TSP-SCD is shown on your participant statement; if you believe it is incorrect or have questions about it, contact your personnel office. (Your TSP-SCD will never be earlier than January 1, 1984.)”

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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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