2021 Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Contribution Limits and the TSP “Spillover” Method

Regular TSP

The 2021 IRS annual limit for regular TSP contributions will remain at $19,500. If you are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS, FERS-RAE, or FERS-FRAE), you will lose valuable Agency Matching TSP contributions, if you reach the annual limit before the end of the calendar year.  

  • To make equal contributions over the course of the 2021 calendar year (for 26 pay periods), you should contribute $750 each pay period.  
  • You should enter your election of $750 into myPay during December 6 – 12, 2020, and your election should be effective on December 20, 2020, the first pay period for 2021.    
  • Your new election will be reflected on your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) beginning with January 8, 2021.  
  • If your election is entered after December 12, 2020 you may need to adjust your election amount in order to maximize the Agency Matching contributions. To determine the adjusted amount, use the Elective Deferral Calculator on the TSP website.  
  • As long as you are contributing at least 5% of your bi-weekly gross pay each pay period, you will receive the 4% Agency Matching contributions each pay period. Additionally, you will receive the Agency Automatic 1% contribution each pay period.

TSP Catch-up 

In addition to making regular TSP contributions, you may also make TSP Catch-up contributions, if you are age 50 or older (or will be turning age 50 in 2021). The 2021 IRS annual limit for Catch-up contributions remains at $6,500. This amount is in addition to the regular TSP limit of $19,500.  

Beginning January 1, 2021, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) is implementing a new method for TSP Catch-up contributions called the “spillover” method. Spillover will help simplify the TSP Catch-up process and will not impact the Agency Matching contributions.

  • You will no longer enter a separate TSP Catch-up election. Instead, you will enter only one TSP election into myPay for 2021.
  • If you are eligible to make catch-up contributions, any contributions beyond the $19,500 for regular TSP will automatically start counting toward the Catch-up contribution limit. These additional contributions will “spillover” until you meet the catch-up limit.
  • To contribute the 2021 maximum annual amount for both regular TSP and TSP Catch-up for a combined total of $26,000, you should enter one election amount of $1,000 into myPay during December 6 – 12, 2020, and your election should be effective on December 20, 2020, the first pay period for 2021.  
  • Your new election will be reflected on your LES beginning January 8, 2021.  
  • If your election is entered after December 12, 2020 you may need to adjust your election amount.  To determine the adjusted amount, use the Elective Deferral Calculator on the TSP website.  
  • As long as you are contributing at least 5% of your bi-weekly gross pay each pay period, you will receive the 4% Agency Matching contributions each pay period. Additionally, you will receive the Agency Automatic 1% contribution each pay period.
    • Although, you will reach the regular TSP limit before the end of the year, you will continue to receive the Agency contributions for the remainder of the year to which you are entitled as long as you are contributing at least 5% of your bi-weekly gross pay each pay period. 

Important Notes: 

  • It is very important that you carefully enter your election accurately into myPay because the Retirement and Employee Benefits Branch cannot stop or change an election that has been entered into myPay. 
  • Only one TSP election can be entered into myPay during a pay period.
  • After an election is entered into myPay, it will be effective at the beginning of the next pay period, but it will take 1-2 pay periods before it is visible in myPay and on your LES. 
  • To see the pay periods for 2021, view the HHS Payroll Calendar.

Questions may be directed to your Benefits Contact or AskBenefits@nih.gov.
 

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