The law gives certain rights to your spouse, including a separated spouse, so long as your account balance is more than $3,500. The TSP must take these rights into consideration when you withdraw from your account.
If you are a married FERS participant with an 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 percent survivor benefit, level payments, and no cash refund feature. If you choose any other withdrawal option, or any combination of options, such that your entire account balance is not used to purchase the required annuity, your spouse must sign a statement on Form TSP-70, Request for Full Withdrawal, waiving his or her right to the required annuity. Your spouse’s signature must be notarized.
If you are a married FERS participant and you are making a partial withdrawal, your spouse must give written consent to your withdrawal, regardless of your account balance or the amount of your withdrawal. Your spouse’s signature must be notarized.
If you are a married CSRS participant with an account balance of more than $3,500 and you are making a full withdrawal, the TSP must notify your spouse of your withdrawal election.
If you are a married CSRS participant and you are making a partial withdrawal, the TSP must notify your spouse of your withdrawal election, regardless of your account balance or the amount of your withdrawal.
The TSP determines marital status by how that status is listed on the participant’s federal income tax form. In determining who is a spouse, it follows the law of the state in which the participant was living at the time of death; therefore, it recognizes common law marriages in those states that recognize such marriages.
Under certain circumstances, exceptions may be made for the spouse’s waiver of a survivor annuity (FERS) or notice (CSRS), or the spouse’s consent to a partial withdrawal (FERS). If the whereabouts of your spouse are unknown, or if there are exceptional circumstances (applicable to FERS and uniformed services participants only) that make it inappropriate for you to obtain your spouse’s signature, you may apply for an exception to the spouse waiver and notice requirements. The criteria for supporting a claim on the basis of exceptional circumstances are strict. The fact that there is a separation agreement, a prenuptial agreement, a protective order, or a divorce petition does not in itself support a claim of exceptional circumstances.