Your TSP Withdrawal Forms are Final, Get it Right

New TSP withdrawal options are in the works after passage of legislation allowing multiple age-based in-service withdrawals and multiple post-separation withdrawals in the TSP. However, those changes are a couple years out, and for now most TSP account holders will be using the two most common forms: TSP-70 (Request For Full Withdrawal) which would be used after you have separated from federal service, and the TSP-77 (Request For Partial Withdrawal When Separated) which would also be used after you separated from federal service.

Regardless of what you decide to do, when it comes time to start taking money from your Thrift Savings Plan, make absolutely sure that you (and your financial adviser, if appropriate) correctly fill out the withdrawal form(s) so that they reflect your wishes. Whatever you request on your withdrawal form is what the TSP will do, even if you made a mistake. And, the TSP will not allow corrections after the form is processed; so you need to be sure that what you request is what you want.

If you were to take a withdrawal while still employed (restrictions apply), you would use either the TSP-75 (Age-Based In-Service Withdrawal Request) or the TSP-76 (Financial Hardship In-Service Withdrawal Request).

There are two other withdrawal forms that are for specific situations. If you were taking monthly payments after you separated and wanted to “cash out”, you would use the TSP-79 (Change From Monthly Payments to Final Payment). If you are a beneficiary participant, you would use form TSP-90 (Withdrawal Request for Beneficiary Participants).

Whatever you choose, mistakes on a withdrawal form are not correctable. (As an example of an irreversible mistake made by a financial advisor: forms were submitted for a split rollover of 25% and 75% into two different kinds of accounts; after the forms were processed the retiree realized the accounts were swapped and could not correct the distribution!)

In another case, an adviser used the wrong form. In trying to execute a rollover of part of the client’s TSP account (leaving the rest in the TSP), the adviser used the TSP-70 (full withdrawal) rather than the TSP-77 (partial withdrawal). When the TSP processed the form, it rolled over the requested amount and cashed out the remainder of the client’s account in a single payment directly to the client.

A mistake in a TSP withdrawal form could have far reaching consequences; make absolutely sure that you are using the right form and that the form reflects your wishes before you send it in to the TSP.