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March Chief's Perspective

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Peter Wiedel, with Joint Forces Headquarters, South Carolina Air National Guard, poses for his portrait, Jan. 22, 2014.   (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Peter Wiedel, with Joint Forces Headquarters, South Carolina Air National Guard, poses for his portrait, Jan. 22, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

Significant changes are underway in the retirement system for military personnel. What does it really mean? The Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act provides our military force with a modernized retirement plan built for retirement savings. This plan is similar to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) that most McEntire technicians use at this time. This new plan has a smaller pension but has added a defined contribution to the Thrift Saving Plan (TSP). This is going to put more of your retirement funds under your control.

Who is effected by the new retirement system? Everyone that is in service now is "grandfathered" in the current retirement system plan. Personnel in the current legacy system that have 4,320 retirement points are locked into the current system. Members with under 4,320 retirement points as of December 31st 2017, can opt to stay in the legacy system or switch to the new Blended Retirement System (BRS). No member will be automatically moved into the new retirement system. However, all new members entering service after January 1, 2018, are automatically enrolled under the BRS.

All new members by default will have 3% of their basic pay contributed to the TSP in the Lifecycle Fund. Additionally, DoD will contribute 1% of a service member’s basic pay to the service member’s TSP after 60 days of entering service and will begin to match the service member’s contributions (up to an additional 4% when a service member contributes at least 5%), after completing two years of service. Basically you put in 5% the government will put in 5%. (You'll see matching contributions at the start of 3 years through the completion of 26 years of service.) A service member can change their TSP contribution at any time. You’re fully vested − it’s yours to keep − after completing 2 years of service and it goes with you if you leave.  This helps out the approximately 83 percent of service members that do not remain in the military for 20 years necessary to receive a retirement benefit.

At the mid-career mark, you may receive a cash payment in exchange for additional service. This is called a continuation pay, that you can use for whatever you want, even put it into your TSP. Guard members can be eligible for .5 to 6 times their monthly basic pay in return for a commitment of four more years of service.

While I am not an expert on the new Blended Retirement System, there is a wealth of information about, and training for, the BRS. One good link for information on Blended Retirement System is http://militarypay.defense.gov/BlendedRetirement. You can also do an internet search and type in Blended Retirement System. The important thing is to become informed with the new system and how it will affect your future. Do as Chief Revels suggested in his article last month and find a mentor to help you with your retirement choices. Invest wisely, live long and prosper!