2011 Thrift Savings Plan Information for Career Employees

New Dates and Contribution Limits

You may elect to contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) or change the amount of your total contributions at any time. New dates and contribution limits are shown in the material that follows.

You may elect to make contributions up to $16,500 — the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) annual limit on elective deferrals — during the 2011 calendar year. Your contribu­tions each pay period must not exceed 90 percent of your basic pay.

n If you are covered by the Federal Employees Retire­ment System (FERS), you receive a Postal Service™ automatic contribution equal to 1 percent of your basic pay, and if you contribute to TSP you also receive Postal Service matching contributions of up to 4 percent. Note: If you are a FERS employee, you may lose agency matching contributions if your employee contributions reach the maximum IRS limit before the last pay period in the calendar year. To evenly distribute the IRS maximum contribution over all 26 pay periods, elect to contribute $635 per pay period ($16,500 divided by 26).

n For 2011 TSP contributions, your elections for 2011 can be effective no earlier than the first pay period in the 2011 calendar year (PP 01-11), which begins December 18, 2010.

n For your elections to be effective during that first pay period, you should make your election using PostalEASE between Wednesday, December 15, 2010, at 3:30 p.m. CT and Wednesday, December 29, 2010, at 3:00 p.m. CT.

n For regular TSP contributions, if you are already con­tributing to TSP, your contributions will automatically continue. If you would like your regular TSP contribu­tions to continue without a change for 2011, do noth­ing, as they will automatically continue.

Why Enroll in TSP

As an employee covered by FERS, you have three parts to your retirement program. Two parts, the FERS Basic Annuity and Social Security, offer future benefits that are funded automatically with set deductions from your pay­checks and with Postal Service contributions.

For TSP, the third part of your retirement program, the decisions you make over time will directly affect the future value of your TSP account. Today is the time to review the booklet Summary of the Thrift Savings Plan, which is avail­able at www.tsp.gov or from the HR Shared Service Center (HRSSC) at 877-477-3273, option 5. It can help you make informed choices about how to use TSP to meet your immediate and long-term financial objectives. You do not want to realize years from now that you missed getting (1) substantial tax benefits, (2) interest earnings, and (3) Postal Service matching contributions to your account (if you are a FERS employee).

As a FERS employee, you can double your money by participating in TSP. How? Sign up to contribute 5 percent of your basic pay to TSP each pay period. You will begin receiving a matching contribution equal to 4 percent of your basic pay from the Postal Service, in addition to the 1 percent automatic contribution. If you’re contributing 5 percent of your basic pay, 10 percent will go into your TSP account double your money. If you’re making a contri­bution above 5 percent, the Postal Service will still add an amount equal to 5 percent of your basic pay to the total going into your TSP account each pay period. Note: If you are a FERS employee, you may lose agency matching con­tributions if your employee contributions reach the maxi­mum IRS limit before the last pay period in the calendar year. To evenly distribute the IRS maximum contribution over all 26 pay periods, elect to contribute $635 per pay period ($16,500 divided by 26).

You receive tax-deferral on TSP contributions and the interest earned in TSP. You get a tax break right now on what you contribute, since you don’t pay income tax now on your TSP contributions. For example, if you’re in the 25 percent federal tax bracket and you make a $100 TSP contribution, your paycheck won’t go down by $100 it will go down by $75. (You also receive tax deferral on most states’ income tax, too.) You don’t pay taxes now on the interest that your TSP account earns, either. That’s because you don’t pay taxes on your TSP contributions or on interest you earn until you withdraw your money from TSP, usually after you separate or retire.

For FERS employees, if you’re not contributing at least 5 percent to TSP, you are losing valuable match­ing agency money that could be a very substantial amount when it’s time to retire. The sooner you contribute and the more you contribute, the more com­pounding will work for you.

Note: If you are covered by the Civil Service Retirement Sys­tem (CSRS) or CSRS Offset, then you won’t receive auto­matic and matching Postal Service TSP contributions. You will still have the advantages of tax deferral and compound­ing described here. When you call PostalEASE, the system will automatically provide TSP instructions for you based on your retirement system of record. If you have any questions about your retirement system coverage, contact HRSSC.

Enrolling in TSP or Changing Your Contributions for Calendar Year 2011

To prepare to contribute to TSP, before accessing PostalEASE, read the instructions in the TSP materials sent to your address of record and then complete the enclosed worksheet. If you do not receive the mailing, you can find the TSP PostalEASE Worksheet on the Internet at https://liteblue.usps.gov. Click My HR, then Benefits, then Benefits and Payroll Elections, then Benefits elections you can make any time, then TSP. Or you may request one by calling the Employee Service Line toll-free at 877-477-3273, option 5, to reach HRSSC.

You may access PostalEASE on the Employee Web on the Internet at https://liteblue.usps.gov, at an employee self-service kiosk, or on the Postal Service Intranet Blue. Using one of these may be easier than using the tele­phone. Just follow the instructions. Otherwise, call the Employee Service Line toll-free at 877-477-3273 to reach PostalEASE.

You need your USPS PIN. You can get it any one of these ways:

n Go to https://liteblue.usps.gov and click Forget Your PIN? Enter your eight-digit EIN (printed at the top of your earnings statement). Choose a new PIN imme­diately with Self-Service PIN Reset — just follow the instructions.

n Go to the Postal Service™ Intranet Blue page: under “Employee Resources,” click Employee Self-Service, then PostalEASE, and follow the instructions

n Go to an employee self-service kiosk and follow the instructions.

Dial 877-477-3273 and press 1. When prompted, enter your EIN. When prompted for your PIN, pause, then press 2. Your USPS PIN will be mailed to your address.

Contacting TSP to Make a Fund Investment Election

Once TSP has received your first contribution or, for FERS employees, an automatic contribution from the Postal Service, and sends you your TSP PIN number, your TSP account number, and your TSP Web password, you will be able to contact TSP directly, at any time, to allo­cate your payroll contributions into any of the TSP investment funds or to make interfund transfers. You may choose from these investment funds — the C Fund (S&P 500 stocks), S Fund (small cap stocks), I Fund (inter­national stocks), F Fund (bonds), G Fund (securities), and the L Funds (an investment mix of several funds). If you enroll and do not make a fund investment choice, your TSP contributions will continue to be invested in the G Fund.

(If you are a CSRS or CSRS Offset employee enrolling in TSP for the first time, at first you will not be able to make a choice about which TSP funds to invest in. Your first TSP contributions will automatically go into the Government Securities Investment (G) Fund, and then TSP will send you your TSP PIN number, your TSP account number, and your TSP Web password, which you can use to make a fund investment election.)

The TSP PIN is not the same as the USPS PIN you use for PostalEASE. If you do not know your TSP PIN, account number, or Web password, you can obtain all three by calling the ThriftLine toll-free at 877–968–3778 or the TDD toll-free line at 877-847-4385 and following the prompts. The account number and Web password can be mailed to you if you request them at www.tsp.gov and select Account Access.

To make your investment choices or interfund transfers, use your TSP account number or custom ID and Web pass­word at the TSP website, www.tsp.gov, or call the Thrift­Line toll-free at 877-968-3778 and use your TSP PIN and account number. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may make TDD calls toll-free to 877-847-4385.

If you cannot use the website or the telephone, you can obtain, complete, and mail Form TSP-50, Investment Allo­cation, to the following address:

TSP Service Office
PO Box 385021
Birmingham, AL 35238

TSP-50 forms are available from HRSSC, but not from the TSP website. HRSSC cannot accept and cannot pro­cess your completed TSP-50 — you must mail it to TSP. If you use TSP-50, your investment choices won’t take effect as quickly as they would if you used the TSP website or ThriftLine. Do not mail Form TSP-50 before you receive your TSP PIN — that’s your sign that TSP has set up your TSP account.

Other Information

Enrolling or changing your contribution level after PP 01 For an election to be effective any given pay period after PP 01, you must complete your election by 3:00 p.m. CT on the second Wednesday of that pay period.

Maximizing agency matching contributions FERS employees may lose agency matching contributions if they reach the maximum IRS limit before the last pay period in the calendar year. To evenly distribute your TSP contribution election over all the available pay periods, divide the IRS limit ($16,500) by the available pay periods (26). This equals $635 per pay period (after rounding up to the nearest whole dollar).

Viewing your participant statements You may view your statements online at www.tsp.gov. The TSP Service Office mails quarterly statements to participants who have elected to receive paper copies.

Withdrawing money You cannot withdraw money from your TSP account until you separate or retire from Postal Service or federal employment (unless you meet certain financial hardship guidelines or are at least age 59 1/2). Money you withdraw before normal retirement age may be subject to the early withdrawal penalty tax and income tax.

Being vested If you separate with fewer than 3 years of TSP creditable service, you will not be vested in (be able to keep) the 1 percent automatic Postal Service contribu­tions and the interest earned from them. However, you are always vested in your own contributions, matching Postal Service contributions, and the interest earned from these amounts.

Borrowing against your TSP fund Make sure to read about the TSP loan program before considering this option. While the main purpose of being enrolled in TSP is to help you save for retirement, you may borrow from your account to buy a home or for other reasons if qualified.

Questions If you have questions about TSP or PostalEASE, call the Employee Service Line toll-free at 877-477-3273, option 5, to reach HRSSC and ask for help.