Yellow sign reading, "What's your plan for retirement?"

Four Ways to Maximize Your Retirement through the Blended Retirement System

By The USAA Educational Foundation

As of January 1, 2018, the new Blended Retirement System (BRS) took effect for eligible service members. The plan includes a smaller 20-year military retirement annuity, automatic and matching contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a mid-career continuation pay component, and lump-sum distribution options at retirement. Here are four ways you can maximize your retirement with the Blended Retirement System.

How to Win With the Military’s New BRS from USAAEF on Vimeo.

1. Invest at least five percent of your pay into the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

Your branch of service will automatically add one percent of your basic pay to your TSP account.  They’ll also match any contributions you make up to 5 percent of your basic pay. When you put in 5 percent, they’ll put in 4 percent. Add the 1 percent automatic contribution and you’ll have 10 percent of your pay going toward retirement. (Note: vesting rules apply)

2. Learn how to invest within the Thrift Savings Plan.

The TSP offers a wide range of investment funds, including funds that invest in stocks and bonds. There’s also guaranteed fund and Lifecycle funds you can use. To optimize your success, it’s best to come up with an investment plan and stick with it. Try not to switch things up in reaction to market moves. Visit TSP.gov to learn more.  

3. Make the most out of your continuation pay.

Continuation pay is a mid-career payment you’ll receive in exchange for serving at least three more years in the military. While it may be tempting to use this money to treat yourself to a vacation or buy a new car, it’s often better to invest it in your future.

4. Stay in the military for at least 20 years.

In most cases, you must serve at least 20 years to receive the pension portion of the BRS. To calculate your monthly pension payment, multiply two percent, times years of service, times retired base pay. Your pension amount can increase each year with cost of living adjustments. If you leave the military before reaching 20 years of service, you will typically not be eligible for this benefit. 

Saving for retirement is a critical part of your financial future. That’s why it’s so important to start planning for retirement today.


Are you trying to save money? Let Military Saves help you reach your savings and debt reduction goals. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. We'll keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your savings goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.

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Struggling to plan for retirement? @usaaef has a great video to walk you through some retirement-planning basics as a service member >> http://bit.ly/2owO5wz @MilitarySaves #BlendedRetirementSystem

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