Changing Your TSP Contribution

TWO UPDATE NOTES:  1.  The contribution allocations are different with the Roth TSP option.  2.  This article is intended for military service members.  Civilian government employees should contact their finance offices for instructions to change their TSP contributions.

I had a question today, and I thought it was a good one:   How do I change my Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contribution? Easy, peasy! Just log in to your MyPay account. On the main menu, one of the options is Thrift Savings Plan. Click on that, and it will take you to a form to make adjustments to your TSP contributions.  This is also the place to change the address associated with your TSP account.

There are four types of pay that can go into TSP:  basic pay, special pay, incentive pay, and bonuses *see below for a list of which pay falls into which category*. You can select a percentage of each type of pay to be put into TSP. Consider your situation and figure out how to put lots into TSP. For example, my husband contributes 12% of his basic pay (we increase it a percentage with each pay raise) and he also contributes 100% of his special pays. This means when he goes somewhere that entitles him to special pay, like out on the ship, all that money gets funneled straight to TSP. That little extra bit really adds up.

However, be sure to keep under the IRS allowable limits.  For 2012, you may contribute up to $17,000 tax deferred and up to $50,000 tax exempt and tax deferred during years in which you are in a tax exempt combat zone.

Be sure to hit the SAVE button at the bottom. The website will automatically generate the effective date of your change so you know when the change will show up in your pay.  Please, don’t stop contributing.  If something really dramatic has happened, as a default just drop down to 1% of your base pay.  However, I strongly suggest you don’t do that, because it is really hard to remind yourself to start increasing it again.  Trust me, I’ve done it and I wish I hadn’t.  Stick with it as much as possible, you’ll be glad when your time in the service is over.

Which pays are which?


Incentive Pay

Aviation Career Incentive Pay
Career Enlisted Flyer Pay
Hazardous Duty Incentive Pays
Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay for Flying
Submarine Duty

Special Pay

Additional Special Pay (Dental)
Additional Special Pay (Medical)
Board Certified Pay (Dental)
Board Certified Pay (Medical)
Board Certified Pay for Non-Physician Health Care Providers
Career Sea Pay
Career Sea Pay Premium
Continuation Pay for Nuclear-Qualified Officers Extending Period of Active Service
Designated Unit Pay
Diplomate Pay for Psychologists
Diplomate Pay for Veterinarians
Diving Duty
Engineering and Scientific Career Continuation Pay
Foreign Language Proficiency Pay
Hardship Duty Pay
Hostile Fire and Imminent Danger Pay
Incentive Special Pay (Medical)
Incentive Special Pay for Nurse Anesthetists
Judge Advocate Continuation Pay
Regular Special Pay (Optometrists)
Reserve Dental Officers Special Pay
Retention Special Pay (Optometrists)
Special Duty Assignment Pay for Enlisted Members
Special Duty Assignment Pay (Guard and Reserve)
Special Pay for Enlisted Members Extending Duty at Designated Locations Overseas Special
Pay for Officers Holding Position of Unusual Responsibility and of Critical Nature
Special Pay for Pharmacy Officers
Special Pay for Reserve Health Care Professionals in Critically Short Wartime Specialties
Special Pay for Reserve Medical Officers
Special Pay for Veterinarians
Surface Warfare Officer Continuation Pay
Variable Special Pay (Medical)
Variable Special Pay (Dental)


Accession Bonus (Dental)
Accession Bonus (Pharmacy)
Accession Bonus For Registered Nurses
Aviator Retention Bonus (Aviator Continuation Pay)
Bonus for Nuclear-Trained and Qualified Enlisted Members
Bonus for Reenlistment, Enlistment, or Voluntary Extension (Ready Reserve)
Career Status Bonus
Critical Acquisition Position Bonus
Enlistment Bonus
Enlistment Bonus (Army)
Enlistment Bonus (Selected Reserve)
Enlistment Bonus (Ready Reserve)
Multiyear Retention Bonus (Dental)
Multiyear Retention Bonus (Medical)
Nuclear Career Accession Bonus
Nuclear Career Annual Incentive Bonus

Prior Service Enlistment Bonus

Reenlistment Bonus
Reenlistment Bonus (Selected Reserve)
Reserve Affiliation Bonus
Retention Bonus for Members Qualified in a Critical Military Skill
Special Pay for Enlisted Members Extending Duty at Designated Locations Overseas
Special Warfare Officer Retention Bonus

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Bethany

    If Marines want to switch over to or start a Roth contribution, they can do so by submitting a paper copy of the form TSP-U-1 to their pay office. The Roth option is available but not set up on MyPay yet.

  • mitchell

    I went on to my mypay and the thrift savings plan wasnt there. I used to put 15 percent. then changed it to 1 percent. does that matter? as in it would canel out my account or something? I want to go back to putting at least 10%

    • guest

      are you looking for how to access what you already have in your TSP or just to increase your allocation. In mypay, to increase your amount there is a link towards the bottom of the main screen that says Thrift savings plan. You can change your allocation there. If you are looking to access the actual TSP to see what you have etc that’s at

      • Kevin C.

        This isn’t true for every service I think. I work as a civilian for the AF and to change my TSP I have to use EBIS. When I go to MyPay there is no TSP link on the main menu. I really wish they would make it a part of MyPay though. It would be a lot simpler and I find MyPay to be one of the better functioning and reliable government personnel websites. But as they say, there’s the right way, the wrong way, and the Air Force way.

        • Kate

          Kevin, thanks for pointing this out. I wasn’t even considering civilians when I wrote this piece. Now that I’ve re-read it, I did not make it clear that I was writing for military service members.

  • Stingone

    If I changed my bonus from 100% to 0% and the effective date is 01NOV13 does that mean if I get any bonus prior to that date that it will be funneled into TSP?

  • Roger

    Where do I change my TSP catch up. I filled out the form and mailed it to TSP and the said I need to do it through my agency. I need to know where I send this form for Hill Air Force Base. I call BEST and they said I need to do it through the computer portal.

    • Kate

      Roger, it sounds like you are a civilian. Unfortunately, that’s not my area…your finance office should know how to change your TSP allocation.