For most federal employees, a TSP withdrawal after separating from federal service is simply a matter of filling up Form TSP 70 or TSP 77. However, there are some special considerations that some people will need to factor in. For example, one of these considerations is about TSP withdrawal spousal rights.
These TSP Withdrawal Spousal Rights, insofar as it impacts your withdrawal, vary depending on which retirement system you are under (Uniformed Services, FERS or CSRS). It also varies based on whether you are making a full or partial withdrawal.
As per the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986, all married FERS (and Uniformed Services) participants need to seek the written consent of their spouse on the form for a partial withdrawal.
This is because if your total TSP account balance is more than $3,500, your spouse has a right to a joint life annuity that has a 50% survivor benefit, along with level payments and no cash refund feature. If you want to choose other options where the entire balance is not used for this kind of annuity, then your spouse has to explicitly waive this right through a notarized signature on the form.
This is done in Section II of Page 1 of the TSP withdrawal form, where you either tick the checkbox (No 11) for the default joint TSP lifetime annuity or get your spouse’s signature for a waiver in the box (No. 13) just below the aforementioned checkbox.
For CSRS participants, the TSP has to notify the spouse in writing for both full and partial withdrawals.
TSP Withdrawal Spousal Rights After Separation
The aforementioned spouses’ rights are in effect even if you have separated as a couple, but are still legally married. The rights are only terminated when your divorce becomes official. The rights will automatically be applied to your new spouse if you get married again.