Temporary changes made to TSP rules to help recent hurricane victims
(Photo: Unsplash, Ariel Schmunck)

If you’ve been affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria, and need extra cash reserves, your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is now an option. A temporary change to the financial hardship withdrawal rules allows the three hurricanes to qualify as hardships, freeing up money for those impacted.

The temporary rules change only apply to participants who are in one of two situations:

  1. The participant’s primary residence or place of employment must be located in a disaster area that has been designated by TSP and has also sustained damage as a direct result of one of the three hurricanes. Covered disaster areas can be found here.
  2. The funds withdrawn by the participant will be used to assist a family member impacted and experiencing a loss because of one of the three hurricanes. They must also live or work in a covered disaster area as designated by TSP.

After making a hardship withdrawal, participants will also be able to make employee contributions regularly. The rule that prohibits such contributions for six months after a hardship withdrawal has been waived for Harvey, Irma, and Maria hurricane victims.

Withdrawals are not retroactive and must be made within a strict time frame. The hardship withdrawal rule changes went into effect October 4 for Hurricane Maria; September 13 for Hurricane Irma; and September 1 for Hurricane Harvey. Requests must be received by TSP by January 24, 2018 and withdrawals must take place by January 31, 2018, regardless of the hurricane. Only one hardship withdrawal may be made by the participant under this change.

Participants must also meet additional requirements when applying for the hardship withdrawal. They must be currently employed as a service member or a federal civilian and must correctly complete TSP-76, a form titled “Financial Hardship In-Service Withdrawal Request.” On page one of the form, designate “Hurricane Maria,” “Hurricane Irma,” or “Hurricane Harvey” above the form’s name. On page two, participants much check “Personal Casualty Loss” to be considered for the financial hardship request.

More information, including forms, can be found on TSP’s official website.

By J.G. Noll