Sign Up and Save with the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

By Abigail Reid, Writer/Editor
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board 

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings plan that you can keep no matter where your career takes you. This article will answer common questions about signing up for the TSP, explain how to keep your information current, and share some facts about your investment options.

How do I sign up for the TSP?

1.       Log into myPay. You’ll see a special section “TSP section” — click there. 

2.       Make a contribution election. A contribution election tells your service how much of your pay you want to contribute to your TSP account, and if that money should be considered pre-tax (traditional) and/or after-tax (Roth). 

  • When you make traditional contributions, you don’t pay taxes on your contributions and their earnings until you withdraw them. You can choose any percentage of your basic pay to make traditional contributions.
  • When you make Roth contributions, you pay taxes on your contributions as you make them. You can choose any dollar amount from your basic pay to make Roth contributions. 

3.       While you’re in the TSP section of myPay, don’t forget to enter your birth date and current mailing address. Whenever you need to update your address, just log into myPay and enter it. You should know that the “Correspondence Address” section of myPay will NOT update your information with the TSP. It’s crucial that you keep your mailing address up-to-date to receive important TSP account information.

How do I access my TSP account after signing up?

After you sign up for your TSP account in myPay, the TSP will mail a Web password to the address the TSP has on file. Use this password with your TSP account number when you log into the My Account section of tsp.gov

You’ll also receive a ThriftLine Personal Identification Number (PIN) in the mail shortly after you sign up for the TSP. You’ll need this PIN to access your account information and perform certain transactions on the ThriftLine, the TSP’s automated telephone service. (Your ThriftLine PIN is not the same as your myPay PIN.)

Where do I find more information about investing my TSP contributions? 

Begin in the Planning & Tools section of tsp.gov.  There you’ll find information about investment strategies as well as questions to ask yourself before you make your decision.  Then visit Investment Funds, where you’ll find an overview of all of the TSP Funds, including our Lifecycle (L) Funds, which take away a lot of the investment guesswork.  To invest in the L Fund that’s right for you, or choose your own investment mix of the TSP’s five individual funds, log into My Account.

I’ve heard a lot about Roth IRAs. Are Roth TSP and Roth IRA contributions the same thing?

Short answer? No. There are some important differences between Roth TSP and Roth IRA contributions:

  • Roth TSP contributions are available to all participants regardless of income; however, Roth IRAs aren’t available to taxpayers with income above certain IRS limits.
  • Your contribution limit for the TSP is $17,500 in 2014 ($23,500 if you’re age 50 or over); your contribution limit for a Roth IRA is $5,500 for 2014 ($6,500 if you’re age 50 or over).
  • Your Roth TSP contributions can be rolled into another eligible Roth employer plan OR Roth IRA; Roth IRAs can only be rolled into another Roth IRA.  Be aware that Roth IRAs cannot be rolled into your Roth TSP account.
  • Roth TSP contributions are subject to Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs); Roth IRAs aren’t subject to RMDs until the account owner dies. 

Still have questions? Visit tsp.gov or call the ThriftLine at 1-TSP-YOU-FRST. Or check out our YouTube channel , TSP4gov, where you’ll find short, educational videos including “The TSP:  What’s it All About?” for uniformed services. The TSP is also on Twitter.  Follow us @tsp4gov and you’ll get current, informative messages as well as easy access to helpful tools and videos that will help you make smart decisions about your TSP account.


Looking for information on the Blended Retirement System? Click here.

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