Life-expectancy payments vs. fixed-dollar payments


Q. I am a FERS retiree who must begin taking my required minimum distribution in 2013. I am contemplating receiving monthly payments based on my expected life expectancy, but I need to know whether an initial decision to do so locks me forever, or whether, say in 2014 or 2015, I can change to monthly withdrawals based on an amount set annually. If the Thrift Savings Plan allows the later switch, are there barriers to my later going back to monthly payments based on life expectancy?

A. You may change from life-expectancy payments to fixed-dollar payments one time only. You may change the amount of fixed-dollar monthly payments once each year. You may not change from fixed-dollar payments to life-expectancy payments.


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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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