What are the withdrawal options for the TSP once i retire from govt service at MRA w/ 33 yrs?


I’d like to make 1 or 2 small withdrawals per yr at or following govt retirement – maybe to pay-off car loans and make home improvements – then leave the TSP balance alone for awhile until i need to start making mandatory withdrawals. Are these small withdrawals even permitted and, if so, are there any frequency and amount limitations on these small withdrawals?

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Posted by (Questions: 1, Answers: 1)
Asked on July 16, 2018 8:56 pm

I read your response and while I understood what you said and agree with it mostly, there are a few issues where your response didn’t quite square with my understanding. If I’m wrong please correct me. The first issue is that once monies are rolled over to an IRA they are then subject to IRA rules and that means that any withdrawals before age 59.5 are subject to early withdrawal penalties. JohnnyC might not have reached that age even though he will have reached his minimum retirement age and will be eligible to take money from his TSP account without penalty when he retires. The second point is that it is my understanding that a TSP participant separating from service on an immediate annuity can request a one-time partial withdrawal from their TSP account as long as it is at least $1000. Further, this partial withdrawal does not have to be a rollover to an IRA. This can be done before the implementation of the TSP Modernization Act. Once the TSP Modernization Act is implemented further partial withdrawals will be permitted in accordance with whatever rules that the TSP office has adopted. Partial withdrawals that are not roll-overs are taxable and taxes will be withheld on the withdrawal. If JohnnyC is at least 59.5 he can take his partial withdrawal even before he separates from service. (Age related in-service withdrawal) In that case he would be better off to roll over enough for all of his partial withdrawals into an IRA and get a lot more flexibility. As a side note, my understanding is that such withdrawals from TSP accounts are not a speedy process, so that needs to be taken into consideration when planning such a withdrawal.
Another John

( at July 17, 2018 5:09 pm)

Thank-you to ‘Another John’ in responding to my TSP withdrawal options question. I appreciate the clarification in his 1st point. In his 2nd point, I’m not sure i understand what “…separating from service on an immediate annuity…” means. Does this mean i need to initiate an annuity in order to qualify for the one-time partial withdrawal…prior to the TSP Modernization Act implementation. I didn’t want to start getting any scheduled payouts until later or when they automatically started at age 70.5yrs.
thanks again,
JohnnyC (age now is 55, MRA is 56 in Feb 2019; service time at MRA is 32yrs)

( at July 17, 2018 8:17 pm)
Private answer

You cannot currently withdraw from the TSP in the manner you describe in your question. BUT, beginning in September 2019, when the TSP Modernization Act is implemented, you will have enough flexibility in withdrawals to do exactly what you suggest.
So the real question is – when will you be wanting to start your withdrawals? If you can wait until after the TSP Modernization Act is implemented, you can leave your money in the TSP and take multiple individual withdrawals each year up until 70 1/2 when you have to begin required minimum withdrawals
Up until the Act is implemented, the only way to take money out as you wish is to roll all or part of your TSP over into an IRA. IRAs are significantly more flexible that the TSP when it comes to withdrawals, though they’re almost certain to come with higher expenses.

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Posted by (Questions: 0, Answers: 61)
Answered on July 17, 2018 1:09 pm

Thanks for your response John Grobe…
i am tentatively planning to retire from govt near the Sept 2019 implementation date w/ 32yrs at MRA. If i retire before the TSP Modernization Act is implemented (still at MRA, though), i guess i could roll over the amt i needed into an IRA and simply w/d from this new IRA – as you mentioned. Once the Act is implemented, i guess i could then make a few more small withdrawals directly from my TSP balance, as needed, early on into my govt retirement, correct? Note, i still plan on working on-the-books after govt retirement so i shouldn’t have to [and don’t want to] enable any automated dispursements or partial withdrawals from my TSP.
thanks again,

( at July 17, 2018 2:03 pm)