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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.

Beneficiary distributions

Payment of death benefits

In order for your beneficiaries to receive your account balance after your death, they (or their representatives) must complete Form TSP-17, Information Relating to Deceased Participant, and submit it with a copy of the certified death certificate. Once we process the information and determine the beneficiaries for your account, we’ll contact them with additional information and instructions.

Death benefit payments made from your beneficiary participant account must be paid directly to your beneficiary(ies). These payments cannot be transferred or rolled over into an IRA or eligible employer plan.

In addition, the payment will be fully taxable in the year your beneficiary(ies) receive it. Your beneficiaries will not owe taxes on Roth contributions, qualified earnings on Roth contributions, and tax-exempt contributions in the account.

Receiving distributions

For more detailed information about the rules associated with death benefit payments, read Important Tax Information About Thrift Savings Plan Death Benefit Payments. You may also want to consult a tax advisor.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that you begin receiving distributions from your beneficiary participant account based on your life expectancy. The rules for when you must take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) depend in part on the deceased participant’s age on the date of his or her death.

Because the rules are complex, more specific information about the IRS’ RMD rules can be found in the tax notice Tax Information About TSP Withdrawals and Required Minimum Distributions for Beneficiary Participants.