According to the Department of Defense, Active duty military members who have served less than 12 years as of Dec. 31, 2017 are eligible to opt in. For Reservists, opt-in eligibility is for those who have “less than 4,320 retirement points” as of Dec. 31, 2017.
How Much Longer Will The High-3 Legacy Retirement System Be Available?
All military members who serve as of Dec. 31, 2017, are “grandfathered into the legacy retirement (high-3) system” according to the DoD. New recruits serving as of 1 January 2018 are automatically enrolled in BRS and do not have access to the legacy High-3 retirement system.
When Can I Opt In To BRS and How Long Do I Have To Decide?
The entire year of 2018 was set aside to permit affected soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to choose which system is best for them. The last day to opt in to BRS, out of the legacy High-3 system, is December 31, 2018.
Will My Command Or Branch Of Service Want Me To Choose BRS Instead Of High-3?
The official guidance from the Department of Defense includes a requirement to “Avoid command influence on which retirement system a member should choose” and to “Stress the DoD does not take a position on a member’s decision to opt in or not.”
If I Opt In To The Blended Retirement System, When Do I Start Getting Matching Retirement Contributions From The DoD?
Those who opt in to BRS will automatically begin getting up to 4% in matching contributions, effective immediately upon opting in. For new recruits who begin military service on or after 1 January, 2018, a waiting period will apply.
What Is The BRS Mid-Career Cash Payout I’ve Heard About?
Those who choose or are enrolled in the Blended Retirement system will become eligible for a cash payout at some point between eight and 12 years of service. The Department of Defense says of this incentive, “active-duty members will be eligible for a cash incentive of 2.5 to 13 times their regular monthly basic pay, and National Guard and reserve members will be eligible for .5 to six times their monthly basic pay (if serving on active duty), in return for a commitment of at least three more years of service.”
There is also an additional (and unrelated to the above) cash payout option under BRS; “Members may elect to receive a 25% or 50% lump sum payment of their retired pay discounted to the present value in exchange for reduced monthly retired pay until age 67”.
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Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News