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Learn more about annuity payments for retirement benefits

FAQs and answers about annuity payments for federal retirement benefits.

Questions and answers

In most cases, you will start to receive interim payments immediately while we process your retirement application and any related documents. These payments represent an estimated portion of your final annuity benefit and are usually made on the first business day of each month. Interim pay helps to provide you with an income until we finish processing your application.

It generally takes between 7 and 10 business days to process a TSP withdrawal request once it has been properly completed and submitted. If you want to make a withdrawal as a separated participant, your former agency or service must have given the TSP your separation date in order for you to proceed with your request.

When you have separated and are ready to request a withdrawal, log into My Account at and click on the "Withdrawals and Changes to Installment Payments" link on the menu.

If you have an outstanding TSP loan at the time of separation, you will be asked if you want to keep the unpaid balance and have it declared a taxable distribution. If you want to pay off the loan instead, you'll have to do so before requesting a post-separation withdrawal. Your outstanding loan must be closed within 90 days of the date when your former agency or service reports your separation to the TSP.

If there is a balance in your TSP account at the time of your death, it will be distributed according to the statutory order of precedence (unless you have submitted a Form TSP-3, Designation of Beneficiary to the TSP). For most participants, the statutory order of precedence is appropriate, because it accounts for life changes such as births, deaths, divorce, or marriage that may happen during the time that you are a TSP participant.

The order of precedence is as follows:

  1. Your spouse
  2. If none, to your biological or adopted child or children equally
  3. If none, to your parents equally or to your surviving parent
  4. If none, to the appointed executor or administrator of your estate
  5. If none, to your next of kin who is entitled to your estate under the laws of the state in which you resided at the time of your death

Yes, you can be paid for any unused annual leave you hold at retirement.

The basic Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuity cannot exceed 80 percent of your high-3 average salary, excluding your unused sick leave. Generally, you reach the 80 percent limitation when you have 41 years and 11 months of service, not including accumulated sick leave. Fewer years of service may result in a calculation that produces the maximum benefit under special formulas, such as for law enforcement personnel.

Your service beyond the years which provides the maximum benefit won't be used to calculate your annuity. Instead, we'll automatically refund the retirement contributions you made during those years. Interest is paid on this refund payment at the rate of 3 percent per year, compounded annually. You can use the refund to purchase additional annuity, as if the contributions and interest are voluntary contributions.

However, if you have federal civilian employment periods when you didn't contribute to either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), then we automatically apply excess contributions toward any deposit due for these employment periods.

You can voluntarily withhold federal and state income taxes, checking and savings allotments, or allotments to other participating organizations.

Federal income tax: Generally, unless you specify a monthly withholding rate or amount, we withhold federal income tax as if you are married and claiming three allowances.

If you want to make updates to your federal tax withholding, you should sign in to your online account or contact us.

Go to OPM Retirement Services Online

Before you make any changes, note that you could be penalized by the IRS if you don't have at least 90 percent of your yearly tax liability either withheld from your salary or annuity, or made via quarterly payments to the IRS.

If you need more information or assistance in determining whether or not you are having the right amount of federal income tax withheld, go to the IRS website or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

State income tax: You must specify the dollar amount of state tax you want withheld from your monthly payments. The withholding must be in whole dollars. The minimum amount we can withhold for state income tax is $5.

If you want to make updates to your state tax withholding, you should sign in to your online account or contact us.

Go to OPM Retirement Services Online

If you don't know the monthly amount you want withheld, contact your state's tax office for information or assistance.

Savings bonds: As of April 1, 2009, OPM is no longer withholding for the purchase of savings bonds. Please contact your bank or other financial institution or the Department of the Treasury to purchase these bonds. For more information on savings bonds, visit the Treasury Direct website or call 1-800-4US-BOND.

Allotments to organizations: You can start, change, or stop an allotment to participating organizations. Participating organizations include:

  • American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)
  • Fraternal Order of Retired Border Patrol Officers (Museum)
  • National Association of Postmasters of the U.S. Political Action Committee
  • National Rural Letter Carriers Association Political Action Committee
  • National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU)
  • Northwest Plan Administrators
  • Treasury Employees Political Action Committee

If the organization you want to make an allotment to isn't listed above, contact them and ask them to provide the banking information needed to forward payments.

If you want to make updates to your organization allotments, you should sign in to your online account or contact us.

Go to OPM Retirement Services Online

Checking and savings account allotments: Checking and savings account allotments are voluntary deductions for allotments sent by direct deposit to a checking or savings account in your name. You can have up to two allotments. You must maintain at least $100 net annuity payment. The allotment must be for a minimum of $50. The accounts must be maintained at a U.S.-based domestic financial institution. This doesn't include charities, savings bonds, garnishments or other court orders, or union or other organizational dues.

If you want to make updates to your checking or savings account allotments, you should sign in to your online account or contact us.

Go to OPM Retirement Services Online

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