What Does It Mean To Be "Vested" in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)?

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Vesting means that you have met the service requirements that entitle you to keep the agency automatic (1%) contributions and their earnings when you leave federal service.  Vesting does not apply to any other types of contributions. 

Therefore:

  • FERS and CSRS participants are always vested in their own contributions and the earnings on their contributions. 
  • FERS participants are always vested in the matching contributions their agencies make, as well as the earnings on the matching contributions.

Most FERS employees become vested in their agency automatic (1%) contributions after completing 3 years of federal civilian service.  FERS employees in congressional and certain noncareer positions become vested in their agency Automatic (1%) contributions after completing 2 years of civilian service.

All federal civilian service counts toward vesting in your TSP account -- not just your service while you are a TSP participant.  Service covered by USERRA also counts toward vesting.  If you are a FERS participant, your agency reports your TSP Service Computation Date (TSP-SCD), which is used by the TSP record keeper to determine whether you are vested.  Your TSP-SCD is shown on your participant statement; if you believe it is incorrect or have questions about it, contact your personnel office. (Your TSP-SCD will never be earlier than January 1, 1984.)

If you leave federal service before satisfying the vesting requirement for your agency automatic (1%) contributions, those contributions and the earnings on them will be forfeited to the TSP.

If you die before separating from service, you will automatically be considered vested in your TSP account.