A Thrift Savings Plan is a retirement savings plan for those employed by the U.S. federal government. This plan is available to active duty and retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as all other federal government workers. If you need to make a withdrawal from this account, there are several factors to consider and several methods from which to choose. It is important to note that if you are not of eligible withdrawal age -- usually retirement age -- some fees and taxes will apply to the withdrawal.
Types of Withdrawals
TSP accounts can be fully accessed once you reach the age of 59 1/2. Any withdrawals prior to this age are subject to certain penalties and taxes. For example, you can take an early withdrawal from the account for hardship reasons, but it will be subject to a 10 percent penalty for the early withdrawal. Other penalties will apply as well. For example, with an early hardship withdrawal, you cannot repay this money and you will be unable to make contributions to your TSP account for six months.
The amount of time it takes to receive cash from your TSP withdrawal depends on the type of withdrawal you are making. For example, if you are making an early withdrawal, you will need to first submit a request through your service branch. If the withdrawal is approved, you will likely receive your payment within a few weeks. However, if you are fully cashing out your TSP, the request might take longer than a few weeks as it needs to be approved by your particular branch of federal service.
While the initial processing of your TSP withdrawal could take a minimum of a few weeks, you do have the option to receive monthly installments, going forward, if you are choosing to liquidate your TSP account. This means that equal monthly payments, for a set period of time, will be deposited into your checking or savings account until you have entirely cleared your TSP account. The monthly payment amount can be set by you or set by the Internal Revenue Service based on a life expectancy table.
An additional withdrawal option is the lump-sum payment. In this arrangement, you can choose to receive the value of your entire TSP account in one single payment. In most cases, the full TSP account is transferred to a life annuity, so long as the initial contribution to this annuity is $3,500. Again, it will likely take at least a few weeks for the full withdrawal to be approved by your branch of service and processed.
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