7/2/2009 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- On June 22, President Obama signed into law the Thrift Savings Plan Enhancement Act of 2009 as part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Public Law 111-31).
One of the provisions of the new law eliminates the waiting period of appropriated fund civilian employees covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System to receive Agency Automatic 1 percent and Agency Matching Contributions to their TSP accounts.
Prior to enactment of the new law, new FERS employees had to wait 6 to 12 months, depending on their date of hire, before becoming eligible for agency TSP contributions. Employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System are not eligible for agency TSP contributions.
Once the new provision goes into effect on July 5, Department of Defense employees who are covered under FERS and who are hired or rehired on or after July 5 will be immediately eligible for Agency Automatic 1 percent contributions. When they begin contributing to TSP, they are also immediately eligible for Agency Matching Contributions.
"This is good news for FERS employees who are currently waiting to become eligible for agency contributions," said Fran Campbell, a human resources specialist at the Air Force Personnel Center. "They will become eligible for Agency Automatic 1 percent contributions on July 5, and if they are contributing to TSP, they will also be immediately eligible for Agency Matching Contributions.
FERS employees who are currently serving the waiting period should see their first agency TSP contributions on their Leave and Earnings Statements for pay date July 24.
"New FERS employees who have delayed enrolling in TSP because they were waiting to become eligible for agency contributions should make their election as soon as possible to take advantage of this new provision," said Ms. Campbell.
Employees may contribute a whole dollar amount or a whole percentage of their basic pay to TSP, but they must contribute at least 5 percent of basic pay each pay period in order to receive the maximum Agency Matching Contributions. Employee contributions are subject to the $16,500 annual maximum for 2009.
Air Force-serviced civilians can enroll or submit TSP contribution elections by using the Employee Benefits Information System Web application or the Benefits and Entitlements Service Team's phone system. EBIS can be found on the Air Force Portal and on AFPC's "Ask" site by entering "Employee Benefits Information System" in the search function.
Employees can reach the BEST phone system by dialing 800-525-0102. Foreign area employees need to dial a toll-free AT&T direct access number for the country they are in, then 800-525-0102. When the phone system answers, press "2" for civilian employees, then "2" again for BEST benefits and entitlements, and follow the prompts. AT&T direct access numbers can be found at http://www.business.att.com/bt/dial_guide.jsp.
TSP elections are effective on the first day of the next pay period after the election is submitted.