TSP makes new investment options official

Federal employees will have two new Thrift Savings Plan investment options, under rule changes published in the Federal Register Monday. In addition, new federal employees will be able to begin participating in the TSP immediately and investors will be able to roll over some outside investments into their TSP accounts. The new rules are scheduled to take effect this summer, with the new investment options debuting in May and the immediate participation and rollover options beginning in July. Publication of the changes in the Federal Register marks the beginning of a comment period during which people can review the rules before they become final. The TSP, the government's 401k-style retirement program, has three options in which employees can invest: the G Fund, which invests in government securities, the F Fund, which invests in bonds, and the C Fund, which invests in stocks of major corporations. The C Fund tracks the Standard and Poor's 500 index, which includes the stocks of corporations such as McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Ford. The new rules will open up two additional investment options: the I Fund, which invests in international stocks, and the S Fund, which invests in the stocks of the many small- and mid-sized companies that are not included in the S&P 500. In addition to the new funds, the following major changes were published Monday:
  • Employees hired before July 1 will be able to sign up for the TSP during the open season that runs from May 15 to July 31. Employees hired after July 1 will be able to sign up as soon as they start working. Previously, new employees couldn't participate in the TSP until the end of the second TSP open season after they were hired. That meant some employees had to wait up to a year to open TSP accounts and start saving for retirement.
  • TSP participants will be able to transfer money from outside employer-sponsored retirement plans and individual retirement accounts into their TSP accounts. Money from individual retirement accounts can only be rolled over into the TSP if the accounts were set up using funds from employer-sponsored retirement plans. The rollover option debuts in July and is available to any TSP participant who hasn't withdrawn all of his or her money or started receiving monthly payments.
  • Starting in May, when participants want to change the way their money is divided among the five funds, they will be able to request changes to their contribution allocations directly from the Thrift Savings Plan record-keeper. Previously, employees had to file such requests with their employing agencies. With the change, employees will be able to make contribution allocation changes on the TSP Web site, via the TSP ThriftLine at 504-255-8777 or by sending a Form TSP-50 to the Thrift Savings Plan service office.
The changes are described in the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board's section of the March 26 Federal Register. During the May 15 through July 31 open season, employees will also be able to start contributing more money to their TSP accounts. The annual limit on contributions will rise from 10 percent of pay to 11 percent of pay for Federal Employees Retirement System employees--up to the annual IRS limit of $10,500. For Civil Service Retirement System employees, the limit will rise from 5 percent to 6 percent of pay.
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