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Federal HR Policies Affecting Schedule A Appointment

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Introduction

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees covered by the CSRS and FERS retirement plans. For FERS employees TSP is one of the three parts of their retirement package, along with the FERS Basic Annuity and Social Security. For CSRS employees the TSP can provide a source of retirement income in addition to their CSRS annuity. The TSP is a defined contribution plan. The retirement income that one can receive from their TSP account will depend on how much was contributed to the account and the earnings on those contributions. TSP contributions are voluntary and separate from the mandatory contributions used to pay for a FERS Basic Annuity or a CSRS annuity.

Resources

Title 5 U.S. Code, Chapter 83, Paragraph 8351, Participation in the Thrift Savings Plan
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board was established to administer the Thrift Savings Plan
TSP Website: http://www.tsp.gov/

Purpose

The purpose of the TSP is to provide additional retirement income to CSRS and FERS retirees. It is not a savings account that can be withdrawn at any time. FERS, CSRS and CSRS Offset participants can contribute a percentage of their salary, or a specified dollar amount, on a tax-deferred basis.

Eligibility

TSP is a benefit offered to former schedule A appointees in the Cooperative Extension organizations that have entered into a cooperative agreement with USDA as provided in the Thrift Savings Plan Act (Title 5 U.S. Code Chapter 83). TSP benefits differ from one CES organization to another and the employing office/agency contributions are made in accordance with the policies and agreements with USDA and OPM.

Contributions

Eligible FERS, CSRS, and CSRS Offset participants can enroll or change contributions at any time.

Eligible employees must complete the TSP-1, Election Form, to contribute to the program. The TSP-1 can be obtained from the employing CES organization and the form can be downloaded from the TSP website at and click on the Forms & Publications link. Completed forms must be processed though the CES HRD office and all elections are effective no later than the first full pay period after they are filed.

TSP Investments

The TSP offers all participants a choice of LifeCycle Funds and five (5) individual investment funds. The individual funds are Government Securities (G), Fixed Income Index (F), Common Stock Index (C), Small Capitalization Index (S), and International Stock Index (I). The L Funds diversify participant accounts among the G, F, C, S, and I Funds, using professionally determined investment mixes (allocations) that are tailored to different time horizons. The L Funds are re-balanced to their target allocations each business day. The investment mix of each fund adjusts quarterly to more conservative investments as the fund’s time horizon shortens. The objective of the L Funds is to provide the highest possible rate of return for the amount of risk taken.

TSP participants may elect to contribute any dollar amount or percentage (1 to 100) of their basic pay. However, their annual dollar total cannot exceed the annual Internal Revenue Code elective limits. The IRS will publish their annual elective limits prior to the beginning of each calendar year.

The TSP program differs from one CES organization to another depending on the specifics of the organizations cooperative agreement. Each CES organization has an agreement whereas the agency matching contributions for FERS participants ranges from 0% to 5%. There are no matching funds for CSRS and CSRS Offset participants.

Designation of Beneficiary

Employees can obtain Form TSP-3, Designation of Beneficiary, from their CES organization to designate beneficiaries to receive their TSP contributions in the event of their death. The form can also be downloaded from the TSP website. If an employee does not complete and submit the TSP-3 the money in their account will be distributed in accordance with the natural order of precedence, i.e., spouse, parents, children, etc.

Loan Program

Employees can request access to money they have contributed to their account and the earnings on their money through the TSP loan program during their employment. Employees must be in pay status to obtain a loan and the loan is repaid through payroll allotments. Agency contributions and earnings attributable to those contributions cannot be borrowed from TSP fund.

There are two types of loans: general purpose loan, and a residential loan. Repayment for a general purpose loan is from 1 to 4 years, and a repayment for a residential loan is from 1 to 15 years. Repayment of these loans must be repaid through payroll allotments over the payment period specified in the Loan Agreement/Promissory Note.

Loans can be applied for using the Form TSP-20, Loan Application, which is available in the CES HRD office. TSP-20 can also be downloaded from the TSP Website.

In-Service Withdrawals

There are two types of in-service withdrawals: Age-based in-service withdrawals, and Financial hardship in-service withdrawals. For an age-based withdrawal, you can make a one-time withdrawal of all or any portion of your vested account balance if they are age 59 ½ or older. Request must be for at least $1,000 (or for entire account balance, if it is less than $1,000). For a financial hardship withdrawal an employee may be able to withdraw his or her own contributions and earnings for a documented financial hardship. To apply for an in-service withdrawal, you must complete Form TSP-75, Age-Based In-Service Withdrawal Request, or Form TSP-76, Financial Hardship In-Service Withdrawal Request. Both forms are available from your CES organization or the TSP Website.

Separating from Federal Service

You are eligible to withdraw your account when you separate from Federal service for 31 or more full calendar days. When you leave Federal service your CES organization must give you a Withdrawal Package, which includes TSP withdrawal forms and the booklet "Withdrawing Your TSP Account After Leaving Federal Service". The TSP provides three basic ways to withdraw your account: (1) Receive your account balance in a single payment; (2) Receive your account in a series of monthly payments; and, (3) Have the TSP purchase a life annuity for you with your account balance. To request a withdrawal of your TSP account, you must complete Form TSP-70, Withdrawal Request, to specify which TSP withdrawal option you want.

Contact:

The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board oversees the plan. The plan booklet, features, rates of return, and account access can be viewed on the TSP homepage. Forms may be printed off of TSP's home page or obtained from the CES HRD office. For additional information please review the forms section of this guidance and/or contact the CES HRD office.

Back to CES HR Guidance Index