Losing Money in the TSP Wasn’t My Fault

I applied for a full TSP withdrawal after retiring, but the TSP said I couldn’t do it because I was still employed due to a coding error by my agency. The stock market went down and my TSP balance declined while the problem was being resolved, so who takes the loss in funds due to this personnel error?

Q: I retired on 11/30/2013. I was a FERS retiree. I applied for a Full TSP withdrawal in December 2014. The TSP sent a letter dated 12/23/2014, and I received it on 12/29/2014, saying I was unable to take a full withdrawal because my records showed I was still an employee. I had already taken an age 59 1/2 withdrawal.

I called my agency to find out what happened. My agency coded my retirement as a “T” in the system which meant terminate, which was correct, but the TSP folks have me in their system as an “A” which means an active employee (still working). I found out that HR retired me on 11/30 on my SF50 but did not finish their processing everything until 1/2014, so their was a delay in my accrued leave and my 1st check.

My question: as of 12/12 when I got my letter of denial on my full withdrawal my TSP balance was $144,804.48 as of this date my balance is $143,699.61 and HR and TSP are working on the problem now, which is still not solved. Who takes the loss in funds due to the personnel error? It wasn’t my fault.

A: I had never run into a situation like yours, so I ran it by two of my most experienced instructors. One of them has been doing retirement seminars since the 60’s and the other is recently retired. Neither of them had ever come across anything like this either. The information in the next paragraph is not to be viewed as dispositive, however, it is a position that you should take in dealing with the TSP. This is from the instructor who retired most recently and has the most experience in dealing with TSP issues.

Since the error was not in the withdrawal application itself, you should advocate that the TSP process the withdrawal with an “as of” date of the original application.

Agencies can request to have John Grobe, or another of Federal Career Experts' qualified instructors, deliver a retirement or transition seminar to their employees. FCE instructors are not financial advisers and will not sell or recommend financial products to class participants. Agency Benefits Officers can contact John Grobe at johnfgrobe@comcast.net to discuss schedules and costs.

About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a firm that provides pre-retirement training and seminars to a wide variety of federal agencies. FCE’s instructors are all retired federal retirement specialists who educate class participants on the ins and outs of federal retirement and benefits; there is never an attempt to influence participants to invest a certain way, or to purchase any financial products. John and FCE specialize in retirement for special category employees, such as law enforcement officers.