By Andy Dean Photography /

More Opportunities for Online Transactions, And Other Changes at TSP

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

Officials with the federal government’s 401(k)-style retirement savings program on Monday announced that participants can now do more transactions entirely via the Thrift Savings Plan’s website.

In a post on the agency’s website, TSP officials said that participants may now submit loan and withdrawal forms online by uploading a PDF copy. Participants still may submit their forms via mail or fax, but officials warned only to send a given request once.

“Be sure to submit your form and documentation one time only,” the post stated. “We will process the first submission we receive and cancel any subsequent forms of the same type.”

The addition of online submission of loan and withdrawal forms comes after the agency in April suspended until the end of the coronavirus pandemic its requirement that spouses’ signatures on withdrawal forms be notarized .

At the monthly meeting Monday of the board that administers the TSP, Jim Courtney, director of the TSP’s Office of Communications and Education, announced that the agency would implement a full redesign of its website some time within the next month. For months, officials have fielded feedback from participants on a beta version of the new site, often incorporating users’ suggestions.

“It’s the same URL, but it will be a totally different experience,” Courtney said. “It’s got a clean look and is responsive, and we’ve done a total information architectural overhaul, so it will be easier to find what you’re looking for.”

TSP Operations Director Tee Ramos said the number of participants making partial withdrawals from their accounts was “up slightly” last month, although it remains “steady and low” overall. Loan issuances increased 22% last month based on the annual run rate, although it is 23% lower than the same period last year. But Ramos noted that things could change, as the TSP last week implemented provisions of coronavirus response legislation allowing for increased loan amounts for participants impacted by the pandemic—up to $100,000 or 100% of a participant’s vested balance, whichever is lower.

Ramos also confirmed that additional provisions of the CARES Act, allowing a one-time withdrawal up to $100,000 and waiving typical age-based and hardship requirements, will be implemented sometime next month. “All of these things we’ve been doing have specific acts tied to them in the CARES Act, and we’re on pace to have all of them implemented quite soon,” Ramos said.