federal employees & retirees--some Qs about retirement planning

<p>We're trying to do some retirement planning & trying to find like-minded folks who have more acumen than we do. Just curious about whether folks have info about transferring money INTO the TSP plan & having them administer the funds, since their costs are so very low.</p>

<p>We're also planning to contribute as much as we can afford into the voluntary contribution plan and considering rolling that over into a ROTH IRA. Just learned today that you can use a charge card to charge amounts to your voluntary contributions which the credit card company considers purchases & you can get the benefits from such charges (e.g. miles, points, cash back).</p>

<p>Would appreciate anyone's experiences and thoughts about these areas.

<p>Looks like lots of views but no experiences or thoughts? Just double-checked & do NOT qualify for long-term care insurance under the federal government plan; not sure if H will or won't as well.</p>

<p>wow- got me on first question- i thought i knew alot about it too- both H and I are in TSP also... HImom- why do you not qualify for long term care insurance? we looked it over a few years ago and decided it was not worth it... but have the full TSP and catchup going.</p>

<p>H & I both took advantage of the opportunity to get the long term care insurance offered to fed employees and their families back when it first came out in 2003. Unfortunately, I had been diagnosed with MS just a few months earlier, so while they wouldn't sell me the regular coverage, they did still offer a greatly reduced, modified plan for those with disqualifying pre-conditions. I'm not sure if this alternative coverage is still offered but it would probably be worth looking into.</p>

<p><a href="https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tspbk08.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tspbk08.pdf&lt;/a> You've probably already seen this TSP Guide but, if not, it should answer a lot of your questions about contribution limits (see page 5).</p>

<p>I use O2 for flying & altitudes--according to the application, it is one of the disqualifying conditions. When LTC was 1st offered, I spoke with MetLife folks and we confirmed my understanding of what WAS and WAS NOT covered and didn't think it would be worthwhile for us. I still have my doubts, but was willing to look into it. One other issue was that we were busy paying HS & college tuitions and H's salary was pretty close to our mortgage payments & my earnings were VERY spordic at the time LTC was 1st offered.</p>

<p>Have not researched too much about whether H may qualify for LTC policy. May try speaking with them again but they may not be interested in us nor we in them. My folks are going strong at 82 & 87; his folks died at 80 & 85. None of them would have qualified for LTC benefits, nor did my aunt until the last month before she died miserably from lung cancer.</p>

<p>I'm leaning toward rolling the traditional IRA INTO the TSP, since their overhead & costs are so much lower than any other financial institution I've heard of & they use age 115 as the projected life of the person holding the TSP. Not sure that I really care about the 1000s of sexy investments--just want someone to take care of cutting the minimum distributions in a timely manner; they even allow you to make annual adjustments of the distributions. If you don't take out what they calculate as enough, they will send you a check in Dec/Jan for the rest of what you should have taken out (after you reach 70.5). I figure TSP won't ever go bankrupt either. If you change your mind, you can always rollover once back to wherever you want (after setting up an account there). It's a little silly, since we recently opened a Schwab traditional IRA, but I figure the lower admin costs of TSP will more than offset any closing costs of shutting down the CS IRA.</p>

<p>Schwab should still be happy enough that we're keeping our other assets with them & plan to rollover the voluntary contributions into the Roth IRA with CS.</p>

<p>HImom, have your husband be sure to attend a retirement seminar if one is offered by his agency. My agency (DHS) offers them annually to those within a couple of years of retirement. Spouses may attend if space permits. I found them to be a wealth of information for retirement planning and TSP issues.</p>

<p>I'm retiring this year but I don't have answers to your questions. I'm actually planning to move my TSP money *into *my IRA, rather than the other way around so that I can have more investment choices but I haven't made up my mind for sure yet. I do know that I definitely don't want the TSP annuity. </p>

<p>As for the voluntary contribution plan, that must be for CSRS employees. I'm FERS so didn't have that option. Your idea sounds like a good one, though.</p>

<p>I've actually discussed this with you before Himom, and we are still up in the air about what to do with the TSP. My wife and I are both Civil Service retirees (yea), and have a significant amount in the Thrift fund. We are both still working, and haven't touched the money yet. I've looked at the annuities from Thrift, but because the interest rates are so low the monthly pension is not real high. </p>

<p>We don't have to make a decision for a while since my wife plans to continue working until 12.31.2014. I may work beyond that date since I have no idea what I would do if I wasn't working. The date was chosen because the people at Social Security told her if she works until then and continues her contributions to Social Security (which she has to do) she will no longer be impacted by the offset since she will have enough years paying into Social Security that the offset no longer impacts her. She will get a very nice Social Security payment on top of her Civil Service pension. When she moved from DC government to the Feds in the 80s she went into a retirement program that included both payments to Civil Service and Social Security so that's why she will be eligible for a full social security payment.</p>

<p>Hopefully someone else will have something to say on your question.</p>

<p>Thanks for those thoughts--am still pondering but getting closer. H will not qualify for SS--has spent nearly his entire life working for federal government, not contributing to SS. He says he will spend his time doing projects around the house & spending time with his many retired buddies. Haven't decided what I'll do once he retires.</p>

<p>Am still leaning toward rolling funds INTO TSP & having them distribute, since it will just be a small supplement to his pension.</p>

<p>Currently planning to max out his voluntary contribution @ as close to 10% of his lifetime earnings as we can manage & roll that into ROTH IRA at Schwab.</p>

<p>I don't putter. I have no buddies. I don't have any manual skills. We live in a condo so can't even mow the grass (yea). Geez, that sounds pathetic. </p>

<p>I do like traveling especially to England, Hilton Head, Palm Desert, Las Vegas, Kauai and Maui, and we have four timeshare weeks and lots of Marriott points so that is something to do.</p>

<p>Have had a crazy week at work -- I got some links on the 70.5 distributions and will post on the other thread this weekend.</p>

<p>ILMom2006 -- I was diagnosed with CML at age 41 a few months before LTC rolled out -- got the max coverage I could get without having to do the underwriting. Am thankful the premiums are reasonable, so am keeping it in case the actuarials head south. So far, Novartis is staying ahead of my curve.</p>

<p>I have atttended everything they allow spouses to attend and H has attended the workshops for employees (but doesn't necessarily know what questions to ask & starts to glaze over as they keep re-covering old territory rather than anything new or interesting).</p>

<p>Glad you're doing OK, CountingDown, and glad you bought the maximum LTC when you could. You're probably much more insightful than we are. Oh well, we'll stick with our plan and hope that I stay as active & healthy as all my relatives have to date (or that our assets can cover whatever costs we incur down the road).</p>

<p>Hubby loves puttering--he plans to paint the house (that he has planned to paint from when we bought it >22 years ago). He also plans to rebuild the fence between our yard & the neighbor (has already deconstructed it). He also loves tinkering with computers & easily self-amused. He also seems not adverse to yardwork and does keep our yard in decent shape. Who knows, he may take up gardening again (did & stopped it long before we met).</p>

<p>HIMom, I think it's more like less insightful and more risk-averse ;) ...but living frugally and covering the bases in terms of automatic savings and insurance has saved us a lot of worry despite the medical bills and lost income.</p>


<p>Did you apply during the most recent LTC open season last Spring? Only four/five questions to answer. I got my wife signed up at that time. </p>

<p>I thought I was going to retire in 2011, but then it looked increasingly like a train wreck in Congress. We avoided the mess, so here I am, hanging in there.</p>

<p>Definitely take a retirement planning session, and if they are not offered where he works, request they send him to the mainland for one...</p>