FEDweek

Bouncing Back from a TSP Downturn

One consideration for TSP investing later in a career is that there is less time to make up for a downturn in the markets, especially since new investments cannot be made after retirement. Thus, many persons shift to a highly conservative investment stance.

However, before doing so, they should note that most participants need make no withdrawals, and even no decisions about withdrawals, right away. You need only withdraw your entire balance in a single payment or begin receiving monthly payments from the TSP or from the TSP annuity vendor by April 1 of the year following the year you turn 70 1/2 (or separate, if you are already over age 70 1/2 when you leave federal service).

That point comes about a decade after the average federal retirement age; only low single-digit percentages of federal employees are still working after even age 65.

In many cases this will give investors more time than they realize to make up for losses in the stock funds or to revise their retirement financial plans in other ways as necessary, such as continuing to work instead of retiring or scaling back certain expected expenses.

Note: If you do not withdraw or begin monthly payments under those policies, the TSP must make the required distribution before April 1 of the following year. When you choose a withdrawal option, the TSP will determine if you are required to have a portion of your account paid directly to you as a minimum distribution. The TSP will notify you and make any minimum distribution payments to you as required.