Resuming creditable service


Q. I have been working for the federal government for just over two years. I am planning on moving in the next few months. I have applied to federal jobs, as well as private-sector jobs and have, so far, heard back from the private-sector jobs. I read that the Thrift Savings Plan is vested at three years and that employees are entitled to retirement benefits after five years. If I were to leave the federal system at this point, would I be able to return to the system in the future and “restart,” as it were, at my two-year mark?

A. Reg: Yes, you could, if you didn’t take a refund of your contributions when you left. If you did take a refund, you’d have to re-deposit that money when you returned to get any credit for that time.

Mike: Your service credit for use in meeting the three-year TSP vesting requirement will pick up where it left off, but any automatic agency contributions that were forfeited when you separated will not be restored.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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