Q: If I retire at the age of 50 (21.25 years of service), I have a question concerning TSP. If I choose the life expectancy withdrawal at that time, from what I gather it is penalty free. In the year I turn 55, can I switch to the monthly payment withdrawal, and would that too be penalty-free?
A: You’re talking about avoiding the early withdrawal penalty by using a series of Substantially Equal Periodic Payments (SEPP), which must continue for five years, or until you reach age 59 1/2, whichever is longer. You will find a SEPP calculator and additional information at Bankrate.com (http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/retirement/72-t-distribution-calculator.aspx)