Service members are running out of time to opt-in to the blended retirement system

Service members who joined the military before 2018 only have until the end of the year to decide if they want to sign up for the uniformed services Blended Retirement System (BRS).

The system “blends” two sources of funds for retirement by paying into service members’ defined-benefit pensions and into the Thrift Savings Plan.

The plan is supposed to help service members who will not stay in the military for 20 years or more put away some money for retirement.

All service members who join the military from Jan. 1, 2018 and forward will be enrolled in BRS. However, service members who joined the military before that date and have served for fewer than 12 years have the option to opt-in or not.

“It is a highly personal choice to opt-in to BRS, with many factors that can affect a member’s decision,” said Jeri Busch, the Defense Department’s director of military compensation policy during a call with reporters. “The department’s goal remains to make sure that each eligible service member has the resources and tools to make a well informed and educated choice that is best for them and their family.” 

While DoD does not have a target or goal for the number of opt-in members, preliminary numbers provided by DoD show 25.4 percent of the active duty force eligible for BRS have opted in.

There was a much smaller opt-in rate for the guard and reserve component: 9.3 percent.

Overall, as of Nov. 26 18.7 percent of the total force of around 1.6 million service members opted into the BRS.

As of Nov. 26, DoD automatically enrolled a total of 134,061 service members into BRS, since they joined after Jan. 1.

However, there is still time to sign up and Busch said DoD is fully prepared to handle an influx of last minute BRS enrollees.

“We can, with confidence, say our system, MyPay, for Army, Navy and Air Force and Marine Online has been fully tested,” Busch said. That includes stress testing “to ensure that any surge that comes right at the end of the year they can handle.”

DoD provides resource materials and a comparison calculator for those who are still on the fence about the decision.

Read more of the DoD Personnel Notebook.