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ARLINGTON, Va. — Defense Department civilian employees who are 50 years and older and who opted to have extra money deducted from their paychecks as part of the Thrift Savings Plan’s “catch-up” contribution program will see the first of those deductions this pay period, which begins Sunday, an official said.

Compared to other federal employees, civilian defense department employees got a late start on the program because of delays in upgrading the payroll computer system. But the upgrades have been made and the deductions will start coming out of paychecks, said Roger Still, a spokesman for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

The catch-up contribution program applies to TSP investors who are 50 years or older, or who will be before the end of the calendar year, and lets investors who meet the age and investment criteria boost tax-deferred savings to as much as $14,000, $2,000 more than other TSP investors.

TSP is the federal government’s retirement and investment savings program similar to 401(k) savings plans in the civilian work force. It began in 1987 for federal civilian employees and expanded in 2002 to the military members.

The delay, however, might meant that some investors won’t be able to afford having that much money deducted from their paychecks over the next four months, Still said.

“There’s a sense there will be enough time to make up the amount. They have still have September, October, November and December. However, that may be an imposition and that does concern us,” Still said. Investors do not have to deduct the full $2,000 if they cannot afford it, he said.

There was no delay in opportunity for the extra deductions to be made for military uniformed investors, who have been able to take advantage of the program since it started in August, Still said.

Employees enrolled in the Federal Employees Retirement System can contribute up to 13 percent of their basic pay to the retirement savings program, while uniformed personnel and employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System can contribute up to 8 percent, with annual contribution limits of $12,000 for all programs. The catch-up program is the exception.

Investors taking part in the catch-up option must enroll for the program every year they want to participate, Still said. Also, they can apply for the deduction at any time, and don’t have to wait until the TSP open season, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31.

More information on TSP, the catch-up contribution program, and required forms can be found on the Internet at www.tsp.gov and www.tsp.gov/cgi-bin/byteserver.cgi/bulletins/03-4.pdf


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