Fort Riley, Kansas



Civilian retirement: Thrift Savings Plan is key component

By Andy Massanet | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | April 21, 2017

     Editor’s note: The following story focuses on civilian employees in the Federal Employees Retire­ment System, or FERS, because the vast majority of the total work force is in that system. Those who are part of the Civil Service Retire­ment System, or CSRS, and have questions about contributing to their own Thrift Savings Plan, should contact the Army Benefits Center-Civilian.

     For Department of the Army civilian employees covered by the Federal Employees’ Retire­ment System, which represents most DA civilians, the Thrift Savings Plan is not just one part of a three-part retirement pack­age; it’s the most important part.

     An employee’s TSP joins with the FERS basic annuity and Social Security to form the entire retirement package for many workers, said Kristine Tiroch, a Branch Chief for the Army Benefits Center-Civilian, with as much as 75 percent of that total comprised of TSP contributions.

     However, Tiroch said, most employees are not maximizing this benefit.

     “Of the more than 300,000 Army serviced employees sup­ported by the Army Benefits Center-Civilian, 31 percent of FERS employees are contribut­ing less than 5 percent of their salary to the Thrift Savings Plan,” she said.

     Since the government matches employee TSP con­tributions up to five percent of one’s salary, people who are contributing anything less than five percent are walking away from valuable matching funds.

     Yet many employees, wheth­er in civil service or in the pri­vate sector, often opt to short-change their retirement fund to have extra disposable income in their pockets. That may make sense in the short term, but for a retirement strategy doing so is not advised.

     “What that (underfunding the TSP) means is that people are missing out on free money, and you don’t want to walk away from that,” Tiroch sad.

     Teresa Weishaar, a Human Resources specialist for ABC-C agrees.

     “All financial advisers, all the experts you hear on the ra­dio and television, will tell you if your agency is matching it (employee contributions to re­tirement) you need to max that out,” Weishaar said. She also adds that, because of matching funds, an employee’s contribu­tion of five percent of his or her salary every pay period actually represents a total of 10 percent of the salary toward retirement.

     “So if you are making $2,000 every pay period, that’s $200 going into your TSP ac­count,” Weishaar said.

     Also, Tiroch and Weishaar said, the earlier in a career a worker maximizes his or her contributions to their TSP ac­count, the more comfortable their retirement is liable to be.

     But employees who are be­ginning their TSP contribu­tion plan late in their careers can still realize the benefits of this plan. According to the website, through the TSP Catch-Up plan, tax-deferred contribu­tions to TSP accounts con­tributions in addition to the regular contributions, can increase retirement funds and help overcome past years of underfunded retirement ac­counts. The limit at this time for the TSP Catch-Up plan is $6,000 for 2017.


     To be eligible to make Catch-Up contributions civilians must meet the requirements:

  1. You must be currently employed and in a pay status

  2. You must turn age 50 or older in the calendar year during which catch-up contribution deductions begin

  3. Contributing the maximum allowed to your regular TSP account or an amount that will cause you to reach the Internal Revenue Service annual maximum by the end of the calendar year.


         For more information on the Thrift Savings Plan contact the Army Benefits Center-Civilian at Fort Riley, 785-240-ABCC (2222), or call 1-877-276-9287.

         You may also log onto or contact the Thrift Savings Plan website at, or call 877-968-3778.


Tag Civilian Retirement