Spousal Rights for the Thrift Savings Plan

The law gives certain rights to your spouse (including your legally separated spouse) to your Thrift Savings Plan. 

The TSP must take these rights into consideration when you withdraw or borrow from your account.  The TSP will take action to prosecute any participant who denies (or attempts to deny) his or her spouse these rights by, for example, forging the spouse's signature or falsifying the spouse's address.

Borrowing from your TSP account

If you are a married FERS participant, you must obtain your spouse's consent before you can receive a TSP loan.  (Your spouse's consent does not make him or her a cosigner of your loan or obligate him or her to repay your loan.)  If you are a married CSRS participant, the TSP must notify your spouse before your loan is approved.

Making an in-service withdrawal

If you are a married FERS participant, you must obtain your spouses' notarized consent to an in-service withdrawal before the withdrawal can be approved.  Spouses of CSRS participants will be notified of any withdrawal.

Making a withdrawal after you separate

If you are making a partial withdrawal after you separate, FERS participants must obtain their spouses' notarized consent before the withdrawal can be approved; spouses of CSRS participants will be notified of the withdrawal. 

For a full withdrawal, spouse's rights apply only if your account balance is more than $3,500.  In that case, if you are a married FERS participant, your spouse is entitled to a joint and survivor annuity with 50 percent survivor benefit, level payments, and no cash refund feature.  If you choose a withdrawal method other than the prescribed annuity, or if you choose a mixed withdrawal, your spouse must waive his or her right to that annuity.  If you are a married CSRS participant and you are making a full withdrawal, the TSP must notify your spouse before you withdraw your account.

Are there any exceptions to the spouses' rights requirements? 

Under certain limited circumstances, an exception may be granted to the spouses' rights requirements.  To apply for an exception, complete Form TSP-16, Exception to Spousal Requirements, and submit it with the required documentation to the TSP at the address on the form.  Form TSP-16 is available from the TSP website at http://www.tsp.gov or from your agency personnel office.

Click here to view a chart summarizes the TSP spousal requirements and exceptions.

Court orders

Your TSP account is subject to certain matrimonial court orders and to the enforcement of your legal obligations to make alimony and child support payments or to satisfy judgments against you for child abuse.  Matrimonial court orders are court decrees of divorce, annulment, or legal separation, or the terms of court-approved property settlements incident to any court decree of divorce, annulment, or legal separation.  In order to be considered qualifying and thus enforceable against the TSP, the order must meet the requirements stated in Board regulations (5 C.F.R. Part 1653). 

If the TSP receives a document which purports to be a qualifying order or legal process for the enforcement of back payment of alimony, child support, or a judgment against you for child abuse, your account will be frozen for loans and withdrawals.  In order to authorize payment from your account, a qualifying court order must clearly identify your TSP account and must describe the award to be made to your spouse, former spouse, or other party in such a way that the amount can be definitively calculated.  Note:  If you have two accounts (i.e., as a member of the uniformed services and as a federal civilian employee), the court order must clearly identify the account to which the order/award applies.