Thrift Savings Plan Contributions: Basic Rules
Basic rules for contributing to your Thrift Savings Plan account. (Please
note any difference between CSRS and FERS employees.)
If you are a FERS employee:
- You can elect to contribute to the Thrfit Savings Plan at any time; there is
no waiting period. The amount you can contribute changes annually. You may elect
to contribute any dollar amount or percentage (1 to 100) of your basic pay.
However, your annual dollar total cannot exceed the Internal Revenue Code limit,
which is $15,500 for 2008.
- Your agency will start to contribute Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions to
your account after you have completed the mandatory waiting period. See the
chart below to determine when you will be eligible.
- If you are contributing your own money, you will also receive Agency
Matching Contributions after you have completed the mandatory waiting period.
See the chart below to determine when you will be eligible.
If you were
will begin the first
full pay period in:
|June 1, 2006
|June 1, 2008
||Nov. 30, 2008
If you are a CSRS employee:
- You can elect to contribute to the TSP at any time; there is no waiting
period. The amount you can contribute changes annually. You may elect to
contribute any dollar amount or percentage of basic pay. However, your annual
dollar total cannot exceed the Internal Revenue Code limit which is $15,500 for
- You do not receive any Agency Automatic (1%) or Matching Contributions.
All FERS and CSRS employees:
You can start, change, stop, or resume TSP contributions at any time.
Your payroll contributions will begin the first full pay period
after your agency accepts your TSP Election Form (TSP-1) (or an electronic
version of TSP-1, if your agency uses one).
You can contribute either a
percentage of your basic pay each pay period or a fixed dollar amount. If
you make your contributions as a percentage of your pay, the amount of your
contributions will automatically increase as you receive pay raises.
You can change the allocation of your TSP contributions among the different
investment funds at any time using this Web site, the ThriftLine, or Form
TSP-50, Investment Allocation. If you prefer to change your allocation
using Form TSP-50, contact your personnel office.) You can change the way
money already in your account is invested by making an interfund transfer using
the same methods. If you are age 50 or older, you can make catch-up
contributions to your account.
Contributions must be made
through payroll deductions. However, you may also transfer or roll over
eligible funds from a traditional IRA or an eligible employer plan into your TSP
account. See Form TSP-60, Request for a Transfer Into the TSP.
You must be in pay status (that is, receiving basic pay) to make
contributions and to receive agency contributions for a pay period.
Therefore, if you are not in pay status, your contributions (and your agency
contributions, if you are a FERS employee) will stop until you begin receiving
pay once again.
Basic pay for TSP purposes is defined by law. It consists of the same
elements of pay used to calculate the deduction for your FERS or CSRS
annuity. The definition does not include awards, bonuses, buyout
incentives, or many forms of premium pay. Contact your personnel office if
you have questions about your basic pay for TSP purposes.
Note: As a result of Public Law 103-353, the Uniformed Services Employment
and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), federal civilian employees may make up
contributions missed due to military service. However, certain
restrictions apply if you are contributing to the TSP while performing military
When can I sign up to contribute?
You can sign up to contribute to the TSP at any time. Your contributions will
begin no later than the first full pay period after your agency accepts your
election. If you are a FERS employee, your agency contributions will begin
once you satisfy the mandatory waiting period.
What if I am a rehired employee?
If you are a rehired FERS or CSRS employee who had a break in service of 31
or more full calendar days, you can sign up to contribute to the TSP immediately
upon reemployment. If you are a rehired FERS employee, your Agency Automatic
(1%) and Matching Contributions (if you are contributing your own money) will
begin as follows:
- If you were previously eligible to receive agency contributions, your agency
contributions will begin immediately.
- If you were not previously eligible to receive agency contributions, your
agency contributions will begin according to the chart above.
If you are a rehired employee who had a break in service of less than 31 full
calendar days and you were previously contributing to the TSP, your
contributions and, if you are FERS, your agency contributions will resume upon
rehire. To ensure that your contributions resume properly, you should tell your
new agency that you were previously contributing to the TSP. If you were
not previously contributing to the TSP, you may elect to contribute at any
time. You can also change the amount of your contributions at any time.
You should also inform your new agency if you have any outstanding TSP loans
so your loan payments can resume. You must make up, from your own funds,
any loan payments you have missed.
If you are rehired as a CSRS employee and you choose to change your
retirement coverage to FERS, your Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions will begin
the same pay period the transfer to FERS becomes effective. You may elect
to contribute your own money at any time. If you do, your contributions and your
Agency Matching Contributions will begin no later than the pay period that
begins after your agency receives your election.
How do I start my contributions to my TSP
To start contributing to the TSP, ask your personnel office for the TSP
Election Form (TSP-1), download the form the TSP website (www.tsp.gov), or use your agency's electronic
version if one is available. Complete the form to show whether you want to
contribute a percentage of your basic pay or a fixed whole dollar amount each
Your agency will deduct the amount you choose from your pay each pay period
and will continue to do so until you submit another election to stop or change
What if I transfer to another agency?
If you transfer to another agency, your new agency should continue your
contributions and loan payments, if any, without interruption. To avoid
any delay, you should notify your new personnel office that you have been
contributing to the TSP; you should also notify them if you have a loan.
How do I change the amount of my contributions?
If you want to change the amount of your TSP employee contributions, submit
Form TSP-1 to your agency (or use your agency's electronic version, if your
agency has one.)
How do I stop my contributions?
You can stop contributing your own money to the TSP at any time by completing
the appropriate sections on Form TSP-1 and submitting it to your agency.
Your contributions will stop at the end of the pay period in which your agency
accepts the form. You may resume contributions at any time.
If you are a FERS employee, your Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions will
continue, and will be invested according to your last contribution allocation on
file with the TSP. Agency Matching Contributions will end when your
contributions end. Even if you are not contributing, you can change the
way your future Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions are invested by making a
contribution allocation on this Web site, the ThriftLine, or Form TSP-50 at any
What is a contribution allocation?
A contribution allocation specifies the way contributions to your account
will be invested among the TSP funds. The contribution allocation applies
to all future contributions, as well as loan payments and transfers (or
rollovers) of funds from other plans into the TSP. It does not affect the
money already in your account. (To change the way your existing account
balance is invested, you must make an interfund transfer.)
Before you decide how to allocate your contributions, read "Your Investment
How do I make a contribution allocation?
To specify the way you want your contributions to be invested, use this Web
site or the ThriftLine, or submit Form TSP-50, Investment Allocation, to
the TSP. (Do not submit Form TSP-50 to your agency.) If you have not
previously invested in the F, C, S, I, or L Funds, you must acknowledge the risk
of investing in these funds before you can proceed with your contribution
allocation. To request a contribution allocation, follow the instructions
and enter the percentages you want invested in each fund each pay period.
Percentages must be stated in one percent increments and must add up to 100
percent. Whether you are using the Web site or the ThriftLine, be sure to
follow the instructions to confirm the percentages or your allocation will not
The Web site and the ThriftLine are the most efficient ways of making a
contribution allocation. Contribution allocations generally will become
effective within 2 business days of the date the TSP receives your request.
What if I do not make a contribution
All contributions, including your agency contributions if you are FERS, will
be invested in the G Fund until you make a contribution allocation on the TSP
website (www.tsp.gov) or the ThriftLine or
submit Form TSP-50 to the TSP.