Currently, 81 percent of active service members leave the military with no retirement benefits. That's right—nothing. The new Blended Retirement System (BRS) coming in 2018 offers a choice that will instead ensure that nearly 85 percent of military service members leave the service with retirement benefits.
But the BRS isn't for everyone. This partner packet provides resources to help you help service members and their families make the best retirement plan choice.
In addition to information on the BRS and retirement, this partner packet also includes resources for many types of transitioning service members, including those who are preparing for retirement, an end of time in service (or ETS), permanent change of station (or PCS), temporary duty (or TDY), or deployment. If there's one thing constant in the military, it's change! Having adequate savings for those changes can make them a lot less stressful.
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As always, please encourage individuals to take the Military Saves Pledge, an important step in creating a plan to reach their savings or debt reduction goals. After all, savers with a plan are twice as likely to save successfully for things like transitions, emergencies and retirement.
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Your Five-Step Blended Retirement System Checklist to Success
By Alecia D. Blair, Military Saves Communications Strategist & Outreach Manager, AFC® Candidate, FINRA Foundation Fellow, and Lani Poblete, Military Saves Project Manager
The new Blended Retirement System (BRS) is coming in January 2018! If you're feeling a little overwhelmed or unsure about the BRS, that's okay. It's natural. Deciding whether the BRS is right for you is a big financial one-size-does-not-fit-all decision that has big implications on your military retirement.
Here is a five-step checklist to help you get organized, take control, and know exactly what you need to do to make the best decision for you and your family.
Step 1: Determine your eligibility.
The first step in considering the BRS is to determine whether or not you are eligible for it.
Active duty service members with fewer than 12 years of total service as of December 31, 2017, are eligible to opt into the BRS.
Reservists and National Guardsmen with fewer than 4,320 retirement points as of December 31, 2017, are eligible to opt into the BRS.
It's important to know that all service members serving as of December 31, 2017, are grandfathered into the current legacy retirement system. No one currently serving will be automatically moved to the BRS.
If you wish to move to the BRS, you will need to "opt-in" during the one-year opt-in period beginning January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018.
Step 2: Take the mandatory BRS Opt-In Course.
To ensure service members fully understand their retirement plan options, all eligible service members are required to take the BRS Opt-In Course. The course is mandatory and must be completed before a service member can opt-in to the BRS.
Step 3: Educate yourself on the BRS and use the BRS Calculator to analyze your estimated benefits.
Learn more about the BRS by visiting the one-stop U.S. Department of Defense shop at military compensation. Here, in addition to the BRS Opt-in Course, you will find infographics, timelines, informational videos, frequently asked questions, and the BRS calculator to help you run the numbers.
Additional information on the BRS may be found at these sites:
- Thrift Savings Plan
- Defense Credit Union Council's Blended Retirement System Guide
- Military OneSource
- FINRA Investor Education Foundation's SaveandInvest.org
- USAA Educational Foundation's Command Your Cash
- USAA's Military Retirement Comparison Tool
The BRS Comparison Calculator is designed to assist eligible service members in comparing the legacy military retirement system (commonly referred to as the "High-3 System") to the BRS. It is intended to be used in conjunction with the mandatory BRS Opt-In Course.
Step 4: Schedule an appointment to consult your installation personal financial manager/counselor
This is one decision you don't need to make on your own. Personal financial managers (or PFMs) and personal financial counselors (or PFCs) are available at military installations around the world to provide free, high-quality financial counseling. You can also talk to a PFM or PFC by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.
These professionals can help educate you on the BRS as you consider your options. Use this benefit today, and be wary of financial consultants or salespeople posing as financial experts who offer BRS education and try to get you to purchase other services for a fee.
Step 5: Make your decision between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018.
You and other eligible service members should take the time to educate yourselves now. Then, you have all of calendar year 2018 to make your decision about which system is right for your financial goals. In other words, 2017 is all about education of the BRS and 2018 is all about making a decision about the BRS.
If an eligible service member wants to stay covered under the current legacy system, they do nothing.
If an eligible service member decides the BRS is for them, they must opt-in by December 31, 2018.
How will service members opt-in? While details will be released in the coming months, it depends on their branch.
- Army, Navy and Air Force will opt-in via MyPay.
- Marine Corps will opt-in via Marine Online (or MOL).
- Coast Guard and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration will opt-in via Direct Access.
- U.S. Public Health Service will contact their Human Resources Servicing Office and request to opt-in.
All service members who enter the military on or after January 1, 2018 will automatically be enrolled in the BRS.
When it comes to the BRS, you've got this! And Military Saves is here to help you stay on track. Take the Military Saves Pledge to set your savings goal and follow the prompts to opt-in to receive text message reminders and tips, and for the latest updates on the BRS. Think of Military Saves as your personal savings support system
Share the following messages with your Facebook and Twitter followers. (Click on images to save and use.)
PCSing? 5 money moves to carry you through all stages of your military career: http://bit.ly/2voNd2V #SavingsTipTuesday v/ @MilitarySaves
Prepare for the unexpected with transition and emergency funds. Save $$$! http://bit.ly/2iEEMu6 #SavingsTipTuesday v/ @MilitarySaves
Leaving the military? Expect (and plan ahead) to pay more in taxes: http://bit.ly/2gnc940 #SavingsTipTuesday v/ @USAAEF h/t @MilitarySaves
Get your financial house in order w/ a spending plan before separating from the military: http://bit.ly/2xKgphb v/ @FINRAFoundation
#Milspouses, a military transition is YOUR transition too! Lead your family into the next chapter: http://bit.ly/2wfLvPT v/ @MilitarySaves
Save for transition, sock away windfalls: http://bit.ly/29VjxhL #SavingsTipTuesday v/ @militarydotcom h/t @MilitarySaves
Prior to a transition, make cuts and save: http://bit.ly/2a6xzfe #SavingsTipTuesday v/ @Op_HomeFront h/t @MilitarySaves
Fin. readiness professionals are available at installations worldwide: http://bit.ly/2wfGd77 #SavingsFactFriday v/ @AFCPE h/t @MilitarySaves
Make DoD's TAP your first step when leaving the military: http://bit.ly/2iGL78l via @MilitarySaves #SavingsFactFriday
Visit @USAAEF for insight into the #BlendedRetirement and Legacy plans: http://bit.ly/2xKbUDi v/ @MilitarySaves #SavingsFactFriday
Financial preparedness for transition is key concern: http://bit.ly/29VAJ6P v/ @MilitarySaves @NMFA #SavingsFactFriday
Paying off a mortgage early can result in serious savings during #retirement: http://ow.ly/BfKeu v/ @MilitarySaves #SavingsFactFriday
Are you eligible for the #BlendedRetirement System? Learn more here: http://bit.ly/2lscEY4 via @MilitarySaves #SavingsFactFriday
Keep the following in mind when making your housing decisions post-military: http://bit.ly/2glXXoj via @FINRAFoundation #SavingsFactFriday
You need about 80% of your pre-retirement income to continue quality of life #RetirementTalk http://bit.ly/2a7Da2t @USAgov @MilitarySaves
Transitioning? Then it's the perfect time to create a spending plan: http://bit.ly/2gYCGRB h/t @MilitarySaves via @FINRAFoundation
Looking for more guidance on deployments, PCS moves and TDYs? Check out @MilitarySaves partner packet: http://bit.ly/2vJly8B
Have questions about the #BlendedRetirement System? Check out DoDâ€™s FAQs: http://bit.ly/2wVOtuq via @DODFINRED @MilitarySaves
Share the following tools and resources with your audience and with other organizations.
Military Saves Resources about Transition and Retirement
- Blended Retirement System
- Five Money Moves to Make by Your First Duty Station
- Military Transitions-What to Expect
- Six Smart Budget Tips to Turn "Surprise!" Into "I Got This!"
- 5 Benefits of Paying Off a Mortgage Before Retirement
- Considering a Thrift Savings Plan Rollover? Consider This.
- my Social Security is your Social Security
- Retiring? Consider These Tips for Smart Management of Retirement and Taxation
- Save Now, Retire Comfortably
- Sign Up and Save with the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
- Supplement Your Retirement by Setting It on Autopilot
- Key concern: Financial preparedness for transition
- What was your most significant concern when you transitioned from the military into the civilian workforce?
- The 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey
Calculators and Tools
- SEC Compound Interest and Savings Goal Calculators
- DOD Retirement Calculators
- Power Pay Debt Reduction Calculator
- Social Security Calculators
- TSP Monthly Payment Calculator
- Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning
- Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life
- USAAEF Military Retirement Comparison Tool
- DOD: Retirement Journey videos
- Thinking Money Documentary
- Sesame Street Helps Kids Transition
- How to Participate in the TSP
- Financial Health After Deployment
- Command Your Cash Educational Videos
- America Saves
- Choose to Save
- Military Saves
- Save and Invest: Transition
- USAA Educational Foundation
- Wells Fargo Hands on Banking
- Army Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program
- 21st Century Sailor & Marine
- US Navy: Sailors to Get More Training On Finances
- US Marine Corps: Personal Financial Management Program
- US Air Force: Personal Financial Planning for Transition
- Air National Guard: Financially Readiness
- Army National Guard: FMAP Addresses Needs of National Guard Community
- Army Reserve: Fort Family
- Marine Corps Forces Reserve: Personal Financial Management Program
- US Coast Guard Reserve: Personal Financial Management Program