5 CFR 1653.5 - Payment.
(a)Payment date. Payment pursuant to a qualifying retirement benefits court order will generally be made:
(1) 60 days after the date of the TSP decision letter when the payee is the current or former spouse of the participant. The payee can request to receive the payment sooner than 60 days, but in no event earlier than 30 days after the date of the TSP decision letter, if:
(i) The payee makes a tax withholding election, requests payment by EFT, or requests a transfer of all or a portion of the payment to a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or eligible employer plan (the TSP decision letter will provide the forms a payee must use to choose one of these payment options); and
(ii) Either the court order does not make an award to multiple payees or, if it does, each of the multiple payee requests expedited payment.
(b) In no case will payment exceed the participant's vested account balance, minus any outstanding loan balance.
(c) The entire amount of a court order payee's entitlement must be disbursed at one time. A series of payments will not be made, even if the court order provides for such a method of payment. A payment pursuant to a court order extinguishes all rights to any further payment under that order, even if the entire amount of the entitlement cannot be paid. Any further award must be contained in a separate court order.
(d) Payment will be made pro rata from the participant's traditional and Roth balances. The distribution from the traditional balance will be further pro rated between the tax-deferred balance and tax-exempt balance. The payment from the Roth balance will be further pro rated between contributions in the Roth balance and earnings in the Roth balance. In addition, all payments will be distributed pro rata from all TSP Funds in which the participant's account is invested. All pro rated amounts will be based on the balances in each fund or source of contributions on the day the disbursement is made. The TSP will not honor provisions of a court order that require payment to be made from a specific TSP Fund, source of contributions, or balance.
(e) Payment will be made only to the person or persons specified in the court order.
(1) If payment is made to the current or former spouse of the participant, the distribution will be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as income to the payee. If the court order specifies a third-party mailing address for the payment, the TSP will mail to the address specified any portion of the payment that is not transferred to a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or eligible employer plan.
(2) If the payment is made to anyone other than the current or former spouse of the participant, the payment is taxable to the participant and is subject to 10 percent Federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code section 3405(b). The participant cannot elect to change the amount of Federal income tax withholding. The tax withholding will be taken from the payee's entitlement and the gross amount of the payment (i.e., the net payment distributed to the payee plus the amount withheld from the payment for taxes) will be reported to the IRS as income to the participant.
(f) Payment will not be made jointly to two or more persons. If the court order requires payments to more than one person, the order must separately indicate the amount to be paid to each.
(1) If the order specifies an order of precedence for the payments, the TSP will honor it.
(2) If the order does not specify an order of precedence for the payments, the TSP will pay a current or former spouse first and a dependent second.
(h) If the payee dies before a payment is disbursed, payment will be made to the estate of the payee, unless otherwise specified by the court order. A distribution to the estate of a deceased court order payee will be reported as income to the decedent's estate. If the participant dies before payment is made, the order will be honored so long as it is submitted to the TSP before the TSP account has been closed.
(i) If the parties to a divorce or annulment have remarried each other, or a legal separation is terminated, a new court order will be required to prevent payment pursuant to a previously submitted qualifying retirement benefits court order.
(j) Payment to a person (including the estate of the payee) pursuant to a qualifying retirement benefits court order made in accordance with this subpart bars recovery by any other person claiming entitlement to the payment.
(k) If a court ordered payment is returned as undeliverable, the TSP record keeper will attempt to locate the payee by writing to his or her TSP database address. If the payee does not respond within 60 days, the TSP will forfeit the funds to the Plan. The payee can claim the forfeited funds, although they will not be credited with TSP investment fund returns.
(l) A properly paid court order payment cannot be returned to the TSP.
(m) A payee who is a current or former spouse of the participant may elect to transfer a court-ordered payment to a traditional IRA, eligible employer plan, or Roth IRA. Any election permitted by this paragraph (m) must be made pursuant to the rules described in 5 CFR 1650.25.
(n) If the TSP maintains an account (other than a beneficiary participant account) for a court order payee who is the current or former spouse of the participant, the payee can request that the TSP transfer the court-ordered payment to the payee's TSP account in accordance with the rules described in 5 CFR 1650.25. However, any pro rata share attributable to tax-exempt contributions cannot be transferred; instead it will be paid directly to the payee.