By John Grobe, Federal Career Experts
Just last month, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) got around to answering a question that many TSP participants had about the upcoming implementation of the Thrift Savings Plan Modernization Act. The question is “What’s taking so long?” Making significant changes to the country’s largest retirement plan is a lot like turning one of those huge cruise ships around – it takes time.
In an updated Fact Sheet 10, Questions and Answers about Changes to TSP Withdrawal Options (available in the “withdrawals” sub-section of the “forms and publications” section on the TSP website) the Board lets us know the reasons that the TSPMA takes time to implement.
First they say, “There are substantial programming changes and form revisions to be made just to make it possible for participants to take advantage of the new options. And there are many publications and web pages that need to be changed to reflect our new policy and new procedures.” Over the next several months the TSP will be replacing lots of old forms, old instructions, and old advice with current, up-to-date information. Here at FEDweek’s TSP Report, we’ll keep you on top of all the changes as, or soon after, they occur.
Then the Thrift Board states the obvious – they’re a government bureaucracy and have to jump through many administrative hoops in order to accomplish anything. They say, “Also, as a government agency, we have to publish any policy decisions that are necessary to implement new legislation in publicly accessible regulations. So we have to publish new regulations in order to allow the new options. We also have a public comment period and take the time to consider comments before we make final regulatory changes.”
The FRTIB also included some important information about the implementation of the changes necessitated by the TSP Modernization Act in Fact Sheet 10. There will be a dead zone, between September 7 and September 15, when the TSP will not accept any withdrawal requests. From today through 11:59 PM on September 6, the current withdrawal choices will be available. You can read about the current withdrawal choices in the TSP booklet Withdrawing Your TSP Account After Leaving Federal Service or, if you’re making an age-based, in-service withdrawal, in the booklet In-Service Withdrawals. You’ll find these booklets in the same place you’ll find the updated Fact Sheet 10. The TSP will, no doubt, have updated versions of these booklets available by September 15.
After the dead zone ends at 12:00 AM on September 15th, participants will still be able to choose any of the old withdrawal options, but they will also be able to choose from among the many new choices. Those choices can be found in, you guessed it, Fact Sheet 10. If you’re looking at a paper version of Fact Sheet 10, make sure it has the date of “5/2019” in the lower eight hand corner of the first page.
When all is said and done, I’m still impressed that the FRTIB is holding to the September 15, 2019 implementation date.