Benefits

Retiring From Military Service

For those who made a career in military service, retirement is a big step. Through careful planning and consideration of qualifications, available retirement plans, and requirements, you can ensure a smooth transition into retirement.

When Can I Retire? 

To retire, you must have 20 years of active duty service in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Space Force, or Coast Guard. You may also qualify if you are medically retired from one of the armed forces. The following types of service count towards qualifying years of service:

  • Active duty; 
  • Active duty for training; 
  • Active duty for special work; 
  • Temporary tours of active duty; 
  • Full-time National Guard duty; or 
  • Active Guard/Reserve time. 

Reservists have different retirement requirements for their time to qualify as active service. They become eligible for retirement pay when they reach age 60 and have 20 years of qualifying active service. The following types of service count towards qualifying years of service:

  • Active service; 
  • Active service for training; 
  • Temporary tour of active duty; 
  • Full-time National Guard duty; or 
  • Active Guard/Reserve time. 

Twenty years of any combination of the described types of service will qualify.

To qualify for military retirement benefits, the veteran’s military discharge must be characterized as anything other than dishonorable conditions including Honorable, Under Honorable Conditions, or General.

Read more: https://militarybenefits.info/types-of-military-discharges-2/#ixzz6nQCaNyeE

Visit the Defense Finance and Accounting Service for more information about retirement eligibility. 

What types of Retirement Plans are available? 

The military has four retirement plans. Qualification for particular plans depends on the date you entered military service.

Final Pay Retirement System (entered service before September 7, 1980)

While there are still many retirees out there who retired under this plan, it no longer applies to those contemplating retirement. Under this plan, retired pay is calculated by multiplying your final base pay by 2.5% for every year of your service. That will give you 50% of your base pay if you retired after 20 years. It would be higher if you stayed until 30 years elapsed.

High 36 Retirement System (entered service between September 8, 1980 and July 31, 1986)

Under this plan, retired pay is calculated by multiplying your three highest paid years by 2.5% for every year of your service. Thus, you get 50% of your base pay earned during your highest 36 months if you retire at 20 years and 100% if you retired at 30 years.

The CSB/REDUX Retirement System (entered service between August 1, 1986 and December 31, 2017)

Under the CSB/REDUX plan, retirement pay is based on the highest 36 months of pay, but your retirement percentage is reduced from the normal 2.5% for each year of service to 1% for each year of service under 30 years. That gives a 20-year retiree 40% of base pay. This system provides the service member with a $30,000 cash bonus (approximately $21,000 after taxes) on their 15-year service anniversary.

The Blended Retirement System (entered service after January 1, 2018)

Under the Blended Retirement System, you get 40% of your base pay after 20 years. You also get a bonus at 12 years of 2.5% of your annual base pay. The addition of a defined contribution plan (called the Thrift Savings Plan or TSP) is what makes the BRS a blended plan. Service members are automatically enrolled in the TSP, and a contribution of 3% of your base pay will be deducted monthly and put into the plan. You have the option of opting out or decreasing the amount of contributions. You can also increase the amount you put into the plan each month.

Sixty days after you enter the service, the federal government will begin contributing to your TSP. The government will contribute an amount equivalent to 1% of your base pay. After you have served for two years, the government contribution will increase by matching up to 4%. Contributing to your TSP can be useful in planning for retirement.

For more information about the BRS, Click Here

What will happen when I decide to retire? 

At least one year before your planned retirement date, you will need to complete your individualized counseling session and your pre-separation counseling. The earliest you can schedule those sessions is 24 months before your separation date (the date of your expiration of term of service). The purpose of the individualized counseling session is to help you assess your individualized needs and goals for retirement. This is the official start of the separation process. The pre-separation counseling session is designed to discuss pension and benefits, moving to your civilian location, and setting up your life as a civilian. Spouses are encouraged to attend this session. For more information about individualized counseling sessions and pre-separation counseling, visit the Transition Assistance Program's website

You will be required to attend several mandatory briefings that include subjects like employment opportunities and benefits. This is referred to as the Core Transition Curriculum. These briefings may be done virtually. One of the goals of the transition curriculum is to teach you how to translate military skills into the appropriate credentials for civilian employment.

Ninety days before separation, you will undergo a final medical exam. You must also schedule your final transition move. The military will pay for your final move to the location of your choice following separation. You have one year past your separation date to schedule your move. However, the sooner you schedule, the more likely you are to get your preferred moving dates.

If you plan on working after retirement from the service, it may be beneficial to start your job search before separation. If necessary, get help in developing your resume to showcase your skills and experience. Think carefully about your retirement budget, and to have a good understanding of how your retirement benefits will be paid. Know what your benefit package provides and how much you can expect to receive every month.

How can I start preparing for retirement? 

To get started, visit the Transition Assistance Program. There, you will be directed to the transition site for your branch of the armed services. This is where you will find detailed instructions and a wealth of useful information to get you started. Approximately one year before retirement, you will receive your pre-retirement package from your military branch.

For more information about preparation for retirement, Click Here

What documents will I need to prepare and submit? 

Once you receive your pre-retirement package, you will need to assemble all the required documents:

  • your retirement orders,
  • your separation data,
  • your statement of service, and
  • your high average base amount.

These final preparations include deciding what to do with leave time. Do you sell it back? Do you take a final leave to apply for jobs and find a place to live? You will also need to decide which allotments will carry over, if you have any.

Your will need to prepare your Form DD 2656. You need to give careful thought to all your options before filling out the form. Your DD 2656 will determine:

  1. How you receive your monthly retirement,
  2. Your beneficiaries for any monies owed to you at the time of your death, 
  3. Your levels of federal and state withholding from your retirement pay, and
  4. Your election of who receives your survivor benefits coverage.

Once you have completed your Form DD 2656 and collected all your supporting documents, your branch of service will submit the final package to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) Retired and Annuitant Pay.

How Long Until I Receive My First Retirement Check? 

If your branch promptly submits your retirement package, and if your DD 2656 is complete and accurate, it usually takes about 30-45 days after separation to receive your first paycheck. If you are a Gray Area Reservist turning 60, the same 30-45 day processing time should apply. A gray-area reservist is a member of the reserve component of the military who has completed their drilling but has not yet started collecting military Retired Pay. If you are entitled to Combat-Related Special Compensation, the first CRSC monthly payment should arrive within 45 days of receiving an approval letter from your branch of service.

You may need to make changes in your retired pay account, such as to your address or banking information. The fastest way to make those changes is by logging on to your DFAS “myPay” account. When you use “myPay,” your account should be updated within seven business days. If you request changes via email, mail, or fax, it can take 30-60 days for changes to be effective.

 

Military Retirement and the Survivor Benefit Plan 

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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