SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – With the deadline for those service members that are Blended Retirement System opt-in eligible quickly approaching, now is the time to get informed and make a decision.
After Dec. 31, 2018, the opt-in option will no longer be available to members with the exception of some unique and very specific circumstances. Airmen only get one chance to opt-in to the BRS. If they opt-in, they cannot change your decision, so an informed decision is a smart decision.
Those who have served 12 years or more as of Dec. 31, 2017, will remain in the old High-3 retirement plan – nothing changes for you. If as of Dec. 31, 2017, you have less than 12 years of military service, you are opt-in eligible. The new BRS combines the defined benefit – pension for 20-plus years of service equals pension for life – as well as a defined contribution plan, similar to a 401 (k) plan offered in the private sector.
One of the key components of the new BRS is the government contribution piece of up to 5 percent of the member’s base pay. The 5-percent match will be added to the member’s Thrift Savings Plan account, which is part of the new BRS. Those members that choose to opt-in to BRS have the standard two-year waiting period waived and start receiving the government match immediately.
Members that are under the old High-3 retirement plan can have a TSP account, they just do not get the matching contributions.
Also, another important component of the BRS is the continuation pay, which for active duty members is 2.5 times their base pay – .5 for Guard and Reserve – at the 12 year mark of their career for agreeing to serve an additional four years of service. The continuation pay can go into the member’s TSP account or be paid directly to the member.
Lastly, there’s also a lump sum pay-out option under the BRS, once the member reaches retirement.
BRS eligibility depends on when a member joined or plan to join the Uniformed Services:
• If you entered the Uniformed Service on or before Dec. 31, 2017, members are grandfathered into the legacy High-3 retirement system.
• If you are an active-duty service member with fewer than 12 years of service as of Dec. 31, 2017, or a member of the National Guard or Reserve in a paid status who has accrued fewer than 4,320 retirement points as of Dec. 31, 2017, you are grandfathered under the legacy retirement system, but may choose to opt into the BRS.
• If you enter the Uniformed Services on or after Jan. 1, 2018, you are automatically enrolled in BRS, and this is your military retirement plan.
For a more detailed look at the High-3 and BRS retirement plans side by side, check out the BRS calculator at https://militarypay.defense.gov/Calculators/BRS/.
You can also call the Airman & Family Readiness Center at 940-676-4358 for a one-on-one appointment with a certified financial counselor.