Strategies to decouple TSP Traditional and Roth for a time …


Q. I have a TSP (Roth & Traditional) via uniformed service; I also have employer retirement accounts with TIAA (both Roth & Traditional), which is a 403(b). [I believe the scenario below would be the same for those with a 401(k).]

To try to tease out and maintain the Roth funds for later, at separation/retirement from the reserves I am planning to take the one time bulk distribution (95-99 percent) of my TSP and have it be a direct rollover to my TIAA accounts. Once the TSP funds are in my applicable 403(b) Roth and 403(b) Traditional accounts at TIAA, I then plan to transfer the 403(b) Traditional back to TSP. Once in the TSP account, then I plan on taking  regular monthly disbursements which will be mainly traditional with a few dollars Roth. When the TSP (Traditional) balance is drawn down enough (either at 1 or 2Xs my Roth balance), I will then roll the 403(b) Roth back to TSP and have all my eggs in only the TSP basket. (I also have a state retirement/pension now and will have the military retirement at 60 w/ the military.)

Do you see any problems with my plan (besides the waiting game for the transfers) or have I actually found a way to delay TSP Roth distribution on my terms?

A. What you’re proposing will work if TIAA/CREF allows it on their end.


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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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