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  • Starting in January 2021, we’re making the process easier for participants. If you’re turning 50 or older and are eligible for catch-up, you’ll no longer need to make separate catch-up elections to your TSP account. To learn how to make these contributions next year, visit Catch-up contributions.


The information we’re providing here is current but subject to change as we receive additional guidance and information.

The CARES Act creates special rules for most types of TSP withdrawals made by participants affected by COVID-19. It also allows us to create a new, temporary withdrawal option that waives the usual in-service withdrawal requirements and allows all COVID-affected participants to waive tax withholding. See below for details.

Loan options

The CARES Act also allows us to offer temporary loan options to participants affected by COVID-19. Learn more.


To be eligible for the favorable tax treatment described below or to apply for a TSP CARES Act Withdrawal, you must be a qualified individual. You’re a qualified individual if you meet at least one of the following criteria:

Favorable tax treatment for existing withdrawal types

Many TSP participants who meet the definition of a qualified individual can take advantage of the favorable tax provisions of the CARES Act using withdrawal types for which they’re already eligible. If you’re a current civilian federal employee or member of the uniformed services and eligible under the existing rules, such withdrawals include hardship withdrawals and age-based in-service “59½” withdrawals. If you’re separated from federal service or a beneficiary participant, these withdrawals include single payments and some installment payments.

Only coronavirus-related distributions are eligible for the favorable tax treatment described here. As defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a coronavirus-related distribution is “a distribution (withdrawal) that is made from an eligible retirement plan to a qualified individual from January 1, 2020, to December 30, 2020, up to an aggregate limit of $100,000 from all plans and IRAs.” That means $100,000 is the maximum amount across all your retirement plans combined that you can apply these tax advantages to. You must designate your withdrawal(s) as a coronavirus-related distribution when you file your taxes. To do that, you’ll file Form 8915-E, which the IRS is expected to make available before the end of 2020.

The tax advantages for qualified individuals taking coronavirus-related distributions are as follows:

CARES Act withdrawal

You may make a one-time withdrawal of up to $100,000 from a civilian or uniformed services account. For those still in federal service, the usual requirements that you be at least 59½ years old or certify that you meet specific financial hardship criteria are waived. Though you may request that we withhold money from your withdrawal for federal income tax, we will not automatically do that. This withdrawal is eligible for the favorable tax treatment described above, with all of the same options and restrictions. The deadline for applying for this withdrawal is December 15, 2020. When you apply for this withdrawal, you are self-certifying that you meet one or more of the conditions listed above. To protect your privacy, do NOT send supporting documentation with your application, especially medical information.