Supplementing retirement with Social Security or IRA or TSP


Q. I retired after 43 years under CSRS last year. Because of my sick leave balance (3,800), my CSRS annuity is 83 percent of my working salary. My wife will be retiring at the end of this year with 20 years under FERS. Her net pay will drop from just under $2,600 a month to under $900 with her basic FERS annuity. Besides our TSP (Traditional & Roth), we also have two small traditional IRAs and two good size Roth IRA accounts. I have reached the minimum 40 credits for Social Security; however, because of the WEP, it would be under $300 a month if I draw at 62. We’ll both turn 62 this year.
As a general rule, do you recommend withdrawing from IRAs and letting the Social Security wait until full retirement age, or vice versa? And would you recommend using the Traditional IRA before tapping into the Roth?

A. As a general rule, I recommend delaying claiming Social Security benefits for as long as possible unless there is a good reason to claim earlier. I have no such general rule for choosing between an IRA or a Roth IRA as the source for a particular withdrawal.


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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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