Before you withdraw
We offer several options for withdrawing the money from your account. When making your decision, it’s important to think about your income needs and the lifestyle you would like to have in retirement. The approach you take to withdrawing your TSP account depends on your specific goals.
Here are some things to consider:
- If you need a portion of your TSP savings right away, but want to leave the rest to continue growing, consider withdrawing just a portion of your account. The minimum amount you can take is $1000, but there is no limit to how many you can take in your lifetime. (Processing times limit you to one withdrawal every 30 days.)
- If you want to avoid paying taxes on the money in your TSP account for as long as possible, do not to take any withdrawals until the IRS requires you to do so. By law, you are required to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) beginning the year you turn 72. (Participants who turned 70½ on or before December 31, 2019, were required to begin receiving RMDs in the year they turned 70½.) At that time, you’ll have to pay taxes at your ordinary income tax rate on any taxable income you receive from your TSP account.
- If you decide that you want regular income from your TSP account every month, every quarter (three months), or once a year, you have a couple options:
- You can request a specific dollar amount when you complete your withdrawal request form. You will receive payments in the amount and frequency you choose that you request until your entire account balance has been paid to you or until you change or stop your payments, which you can do at any time. Note: The amount of each monthly payment must be at least $25.
- You can have us compute a monthly payment amount for you based on your life expectancy when you complete your request form. Your initial payment will be based on your age and your account balance at the time of the first payment. Each year thereafter, we will recalculate the amount of your monthly payments based on your age and your account balance at the end of the preceding year.
- Be aware that neither the specified dollar amount nor the TSP-computed payment option is guaranteed to last your entire lifetime.
- If you want a guaranteed stream of monthly income, consider purchasing a life annuity, which is a monthly benefit paid to you every month for the rest of your life. This process is sometimes complicated, but we’ve got you covered. Visit Annuity basics for information on purchasing an annuity.
For more information on TSP installment payments and other withdrawal options, read the booklet Withdrawing From Your TSP Account for Separated and Beneficiary Participants.
For more information about RMDs and tax requirements, see the tax notice Important Tax Information About Your TSP Withdrawal and Required Minimum Distributions.
Vesting requirements only apply to FERS and BRS participants.
FERS and BRS participants must work for a certain number of years in order to be entitled to, or vested in, the Agency/Service Automatic (1%) Contributions in their account and the earnings on them. If you have not met the vesting requirement by the time you leave service, any Agency/Service Automatic (1%) Contributions and the earnings on them will be removed from your account and forfeited to the TSP.
Important: Civilian service does not count toward vesting in a uniformed services account, and uniformed service does not count toward vesting in a civilian account. For more information about vesting, visit A few words about vesting.
By law, your spouse has certain rights to your TSP account. These rules apply even if you’re separated from, but still married to, your spouse.
- If you’re a married FERS or uniformed services participant and you are making a partial withdrawal, your spouse must give written consent on your withdrawal form regardless of your account balance or the amount of your withdrawal. Your spouse’s signature must be notarized.
- If you’re a married CSRS participant and you are making a partial withdrawal, we must notify your spouse in writing regardless of your account balance or the amount of your withdrawal.
- If you’re a married FERS or uniformed services participant with a total TSP account balance of more than $3,500 and you are making a full withdrawal, your spouse is entitled by law to a joint life annuity with:
- a 50% survivor benefit,
- level payments, and
- the no cash refund feature.
- If you choose any other withdrawal option or combination of options where your entire account balance is not used to purchase this particular type of annuity, your spouse must sign the statement on your withdrawal form that waives his or her right to that annuity. Your spouse’s signature must be notarized.
- If you are a married CSRS participant with a total TSP account balance of more than $3,500 and you are making a full withdrawal, we must notify your spouse in writing of your withdrawal election.
Combined civilian and uniformed services accounts
- If you’re a married CSRS participant and you move your civilian account into your uniformed services account, your spouse gains additional rights because he or she must sign a waiver of consent when you want to withdraw your account.
- If you’re a married CSRS participant and you move your uniformed services account into your civilian account, you must get your spouse’s consent to do so and we will only notify them of your withdrawal.