Retirement

The March Air Reserve Base Airman and Family Readiness Center, Calif. hosted two seminar sessions to introduce the new Blended Retirement System (BRS) at the 452nd Mission Support Group conference room here, December 10, 2016.

 

Maria Hernandez, a personal financial counselor and planner, led the hour-long meetings with March Airmen eager to learn about and discuss the new retirement plans and whether it makes sense for them.

 

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 authorized a new retirement system for our nation's military services. It is planned to become effective on January 1, 2018.

 

New members that join after December 31, 2017 will be automatically enrolled in the new system. Those members that joined before January 1, 2006 will stay on the current program and will not be given a choice to join the new system. Members that joined after January 1, 2006 and before December 31, 2017 or earned fewer than 4,320 points by the program start in January 2018 can choose to remain in the old military retirement plan or move to the new BRS plan. Members have only until the end of 2018 to make their decision to stay with the legacy system or move to the new benefits program.

 

Hernandez said the current plan gives service members who serve for 20 years a retirement benefit but those who are not able to serve 20 years will not get any benefits. Only 17 percent of veterans are able to collect for retirement; the new plan goal is to ensure that 85 percent of members will receive some benefits, even if they only remain in the military for one enlistment, Hernandez said.

 

The new plan consists of three parts: a retired pay annuity, mid-career continuation pay, and automatic and matching contributions against member contributions by the DoD.

 

The new retirement system still features a monthly annuity payment earned at 20 years of service, but the payment is down from two and a half percent each year served to two percent each year served, a reduction of 20 percent from the previous plan. Second, a mid-career bonus of 1/2 month of basic pay, intended for retirement investment, will be given to Reserve members after their 12th year and re-enlistment of at least four more years. Third, Thrift Savings Plan contributions equal to one percent of basic pay to a TSP account and matches up to four percent of a member's contributions into the account, are fully vested as soon as two years after they begin service and can be taken with them when they separate.

 

The Air Force, starting in 2017, plans to offer online courses, professional financial counseling, and in-person education as part of a complete strategy in providing Airmen the information they need to make a decision about their retirement plan.

 

"The Department of Defense is trying to educate members about the new retirement system," said Hernandez, "because it is trying to provide a retirement for those service members that may not stay the full twenty years [to earn a retirement]."

 

For more information about the Blended Retirement System, visit http://militarypay.defense.gov, or contact the March Airman and Family Readiness Center at (951) 655-5350 for information about future seminars and programs.