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United States Army Retirement Benefits

Be Aware Of Tax Implications


Retirement pensions are received as soon as the service member retires from the military after 20 years. If they enlisted at age 22, that means they can begin receiving their pension at age 42.

With your TSP, you decide when to start taking out your money once you leave the military. You can choose from several options for accessing it you can withdraw money once or in regular payments, leave it to grow, or purchase an annuity with the balance. However, if you withdraw money before age 60, you may pay a penalty. On the flip side, once you reach age 72, youre required to start taking minimum withdrawals. Each option has various tax ramifications, so its smart to seek out professional advice.

How To Maximize Your Blended Retirement System Earnings

As of January 1, 2018, the new Blended Retirement System took effect for eligible service members. The plan includes a smaller 20-year military retirement annuity, automatic and matching contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan , a mid-career continuation pay component and lump-sum distribution options at retirement.

The Blended Retirement System is calculated using a 2.0% multiplier for each year of service instead of a 2.5% multiplier, making a 20-year pension worth 40% of the retirement pay multiplier instead of 50%. Service members can estimate their retirement benefits under the BRS and compare the Legacy High-3 with the BRS.

On the surface, new service members may not receive as much retirement as they would have under the traditional system. Still, if the 401 element, the TSP, is managed correctly, there’s the potential to make even more under the BRS.

Gi Bill And Other Va Education Benefits

Military retirees have the option to use their GI Bill benefits after retirement, but there are also state-level education programs, including tuition and fee coverage for qualifying veterans and retirees. Youll want to compare the state benefits to your GI Bill benefits and decide which to use first and why.

It is true that the Post 9/11 GI Bill may be transferred to dependents and spouses, but if you did not transfer your GI Bill to them while serving on active duty, your ability to transfer has ended.

That is one reason why its a very good idea to explore both state-level veteran benefits sites and the VAs site for other options your spouse and children can use if you have qualifying military service for those programs.

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Does Disability Pay Offset Retirement Pay

There have been significant changes to the law governing Veteran Affairs disability compensation and military retirement pay, which are two different forms of compensation. In the past, veterans were not able to obtain both. Since 2004, Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay has allowed military retirees to receive military retired pay and VA compensation. You need to be eligible for retired pay to qualify.

You may be entitled to CRDP if the following applies:

You are a regular retiree with a VA disability rating of 50% or higher.You are a reserve retiree with 20 qualifying years of service, who has a VA disability rating of 50% or higher and has reached retirement age. Retirement age is 60 in most cases, but individual reserve retirees may be eligible before turning 60.You are retired under the Temporary Early Retirement Authority and have a VA disability rating of 50% or greater.You are a disability retiree who earned entitlement to retired pay under any provision of law other than solely by disability, and you have a VA disability rating of 50% or higher

Monthly payment amounts for veterans with disabilities are calculated based on disability rating and dependent family member details.

Military Retirement Prior To World War Ii

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In the years before the Second World War, the retirement systems of the United States military were highly varied between the different branches of service. In 1916, the military instituted new “up or out” policies, forcing the retirement of members who were not selected for promotion in a prescribed amount of time. In conjunction with these reforms, the military began using what has become the “standard” calculation for retirement compensation of 2.5% of base pay, multiplied by years of service, with a maximum payout of 75% of base pay in retirement. For example, a soldier retiring after 25 years of service would be eligible for a payment equal to 62.5% of his base pay at the time of his retirement. This method of calculation has remained ingrained in the military retirement system to present day.

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Get Connected With Mental Health Careno Matter Your Discharge Status Service History Or Eligibility For Va Health Care

If you need support for a specific mental health problemor if youre having problems sleeping, controlling your anger, or readjusting to civilian lifeyou are not alone. And we can help.

To access free VA mental health services right away:

  • anytime, day or night.
  • Call us at . Were here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. If you have hearing loss, call TTY: .

You dont need to be enrolled in VA health care to get care.

  • Find out if you qualify for VA education benefits to help pay for school or training. If you qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, learn how to transfer your unused benefits to your spouse or dependent children. Open to service members and Veterans

  • Review the requirements for getting a Certificate of Eligibility to buy, build, improve, or refinance a home. Open to service members and Veterans

  • Find out if you qualify for and how to manage your SGLI coverage, and learn about coverage options for you and your family after separation or retirement. Open to service members and Veterans

What Is Disability Retirement Pay

Disability Retirement Pay is a monthly payment given to veterans who meet the disability requirements due to events that occurred during service, and to veterans whose service made an existing condition worse. If you have a condition like PTSD or other chronic illnesses and injuries, you may qualify for these disability benefits. The pay is offered through Veterans Affairs and the amount is based on your disability rating with the VA. You can’t combine disability pay with a VA pension, but you’ll be paid whichever is the higher amount.

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Tips For Maximizing Your Tsp

The following tips can help you maximize your Thrift Savings Plan contributions. The sooner you start, the better off youll be when it comes time to retire from the military.

Contribute at least 5%.

The TSP matching contribution comprises two parts: automatic 1% match and 4% agency match. If you do not contribute at least 5% of your pay, you are not making the most of what’s being offered to you. If you are participating in the BRS but not contributing to your TSP, you will only receive the Department of Defense’s 1% automatic contribution. If you do not contribute to your TSP, you do not receive any matching contributions.

Make catch-up contributions.

Catch-up contributions are extra deposits you can begin making into a TSP any time starting in the year that you turn 50 years old, as long as you expect to make the maximum regular contribution as an eligible federal employee. This gives you the chance to save up more for your retirement. You decide how much you want to deposit, and it’s automatically deducted from your basic pay every pay period. There is a yearly limit, determined by the IRS. Catch-up contributions automatically stop when you reach the limit or when the calendar year ends whichever comes first. They don’t continue from one year to the next. You must make a new catch-up contribution election each year.

Traditional TSP vs. Roth TSP.

Weigh your options.

Stay up to date.

How Much Will My Army Pension Be


The amount of your pension paycheck varies based on when you join the Army. Active-duty, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard pensions are all calculated in the same way, regardless of which pension plan you choose. You will have a choice between two pension plans. One plan is called the High-36 Plan, which takes 50% of your average highest basic pay earned over 36 months, plus an additional 2.5% for each additional year served. The other plan to choose from is the Military Retirement Reform Act , commonly known as REDUX. Under the REDUX plan, you can receive a $30,000 Career Status Bonus after 15 years of service if you agree to complete 20 years of service. In addition to the bonus, youll receive 40% of your average highest basic pay earned over 36 months, plus an additional 3.5% for each additional year served.

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How Military Pensions Work

Emily Starbuck Gerson is an award-winning freelance journalist specializing in personal finance for more than 14 years, especially for the LGBTQ+ and military communities. Emily won the Excellence in Long-Form Journalism Award from the The Association of LGBTQ Journalists in June 2019.

While pensions are a thing of the past for most working Americans, one of the biggest draws of serving in the military is the potential to earn a retirement pension for lifewhether you continue to work in the civilian world after the military or not.

One of the disadvantages, however, is the U.S. military retirement system is complex and can be difficult to understand. Pension plans have changed drastically over the years, and what youre entitled to depends on when you joined the military and how long you served, among other factors.

The Option To Save For Retirement With Every Paycheck

You can choose to enroll in the Thrift Savings Plan, similar to a 401 plan, which automatically puts a percentage of every paycheck into your retirement account. Then, up to 5% of your contributions are matched by the government. These ongoing deposits help you build money over time with little effort or thought.

  • 3% Automatic Contribution: From every paycheck
  • 5% Government Match: Of the funds you contribute
  • Two Years to Fully Vest: So you can take all the money the government contributed into your retirement fund when you leave the Army

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Frequently Asked Questions About Military Retirement

Getting a head start is critical to making the most of any service members retirement – no matter if youre with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard. At a minimum, the transitioning process should start a year before your expiration of time-in-service date, but many people start planning even before that.

Va Disability Compensation Benefits


Veterans who have a service-related injury or illness may be entitled to VA disability compensation. Its a tax-free monthly benefit.

Visit VA.gov to learn:

  • Which conditions qualify you for benefits

  • How the claims process works

Survivors of veterans may receive compensation benefits in certain situations.

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Medical And Dental Benefits

As a cadet and officer, your medical and dental needs are met with no premiums or out of pocket expenses. Eligible dependents are fully covered while you are on active duty.

If you separate rather than retire from the Coast Guard, your medical and dental benefits end. When you retire, you have the option to enroll in Tricare, an affordable military medical and dental plan. Out-of-pocket expenses are possible depending on the coverage you elect and your familys needs.

Later in life, when you are eligible for Medicare and have Part A and B coverage, Tricare for Life serves as a wrap-around plan, normally eliminating potential out of pocket expenses.

How Do I Calculate My Military Retirement Pay

After 20 years of service, military members can retire under the High-3 retirement plan with 50% of their basic pay, full medical coverage and a range of other benefits. Service members who retire under the newer BRS will earn 40% of their base pay with whatever has been accrued in their TSP. Service members in the Guard or Reserves can also earn military benefits based on a point system. Benefits start at age 60, which is close to the traditional retirement age of 65.

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Does The Military Still Have A 20

There have been changes made to military retirement so that those who retire before 20 years whether due to circumstance or personal choice can still obtain retirement pay. Stepping back into civilian life after years or decades in the military brings certain retirement benefits depending on the length of time served and rank in the military. Typically, however, you’ll need to serve for at least 20 years to receive full retirement pay.

Va Benefits For Service Members

Gray Area Retirements

If you’re serving on active duty in the United States uniformed services, including active National Guard and Reserve with federal pay, you may be eligible for VA benefits both during service and after separation or retirement. If you’re a traditional or technical member of the National Guard and Reserve, you may also be eligible for some VA benefits. Find out which benefits you may qualify forand when to apply. You’ll also learn about these benefits in your required Transition Assistance Program briefing.

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Get Paid Throughout Retirement With A Pension Plan

A pension plan pays you a steady paycheck for the rest of your life, even after you retire from the Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard.

Serve 20 Years to Earn an Army Pension

You’ll receive a pension after 20 years of service. Active-duty Soldiers can start pension payments, , at any age they choose,while Army Reserve and Army National Guard Soldiers can claim them after they turn 60 years old.

Stay Longer and Earn More

Your pension paycheck amount is associated with your highest rank while serving. The longer you serve, the bigger your pension paycheck, since it’s based on your highest three years of basic pay during service.

Flexible Payout Options

You have the flexibility to receive your Army pension in a lump sum at a reduced rate, rather than getting monthly payments. This option provides a large payment up front in exchange for less money over time.

Enrollment In The Brs Depends On When You Joined The Service

  • If you joined before January 1, 2006, you remained in the legacy retirement system.

  • If you joined the service on or after January 1, 2018, you were automatically enrolled in the BRS.

  • If you joined between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2017, you could stay in the legacy system or enroll in the new one. The last day to enroll in the BRS plan was December 31, 2018.

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Questions To Ask Yourself Before Retiring

As you plan, consider these important questions:

  • At what age do you plan to retire?
  • Can you participate in an employer’s retirement savings plan? This includes 401 plans and traditional pension plans.
  • If you have a spouse or partner, will they retire when you do?
  • Where do you plan to live when you retire? Will you downsize, rent, or own your home?
  • Do you expect to work part-time?
  • Will you have the same medical insurance you had while working? Will your insurance coverage change?
  • Do you want to travel or pursue a costly, new hobby?

How Military Retirement Works

Ky National Guard Enlistment Bonus

The military retirement system works very differently than in the private sector. Service members have access to two different retirement vehicles:

  • A pension, which is only available to those who retire after at least 20 years of service. It is fully funded by the government and is paid out as an annuity for life.
  • A Thrift Savings Plan , a tax-advantaged retirement savings account, much like a 401 for federal employees. TSPs are typically self-funded, though the government also contributes in the new standard retirement plan. Its not required to serve for 20 years to receive this benefit this money belongs to the service member.
  • The exact rules and benefits have varied over the years, with several different plans phasing in and out. The type of retirement plan youre on depends on when you entered the military, but the two major plans include both a pension and thrift savings plan, though you can only get the pension part after serving for 20 years.

    The last plan, High-36 or High 3,” is no longer available unless you chose to opt in during the transition period and its financial benefits are only available to those who serve at least 20 years. In this old system, the government made no contributions to TSP accounts, though a service member could contribute a portion of their paycheck up to the limit set by the IRS.

    Bear in mind that retirement plans work differently for reservists and those who are deemed disabled.

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    How Long Will You Live In Retirement

    Based on current estimates, a 65 year old man can expect to live approximately 18 years in retirement, and a 65 year old woman can expect to live about 20 years, but many people live longer. Planning to live well into your 90s can help you avoid outliving your income.

    The worksheet takes into account some factors that impact your retirement savings. First, investing – because it involves risk. Second, inflation – because todays dollars will usually buy less each year as the cost of living rises. Your target savings rate includes any contributions your employer makes to a retirement savings plan for you, such as an employer matching contribution. If, for example, you are in a 401 plan in which you contribute 4 percent of your salary and your employer also contributes 4 percent, your saving rate would be 8 percent of your salary.

    If you are not currently saving this amount, dont be discouraged. The important thing is to start saving even a small amount and increase that amount when you can. Come back and update this worksheet from time to time to reflect changes and track your progress.

    Here are a few tips on how to save smart for retirement:

    To track other resources you may have in retirement, start by getting your Social Security statement and an estimate of your retirement benefits on the Social Security Administrations website, www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement.

    Get started today for a secure financial future!

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