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The following chart summarizes the differences between the four regular and non-regular retirement plans and disability retirement.
Career Status Bonus $30,000 lump sum payment at 15th year of service with obligation to serve through 20 years + defined benefit
Defined Benefit is
(a) Prior to age 62:
2.5% times the number of years of service minus 1.0% for each year of service less than 30, times the average of the member’s highest 36 months of basic pay
(b) At age 62 and after:
2.5% times the number of years of service times the average of the member’s highest 36 months of basic pay
Blended defined benefit and defined contribution plan.
All covered members receive a Government contribution that equals 1% of basic or inactive duty pay to a tax-advantaged retirement account (Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)) after 60 days following the entry into Uniformed Service. Additionally, covered members have the ability to receive up to an additional 4% matching contribution from the Government to TSP beginning after 2nd year of service through 26th year of service
Members who otherwise qualify for a retirement based on longevity of service will also receive a defined benefit that is 2.0% times the number of years of service times the member’s highest 36 months of basic pay
Only retirement plan for members with initial date of entry into service on or after January 1, 2018
Optional retirement plan for members with an initial date of entry into service on or before December 31, 2017, who:
(a) while on active duty, had fewer than 12 years of service as of December 31, 2017, and who elected to opt into BRS during the opt-in period; or,
(b) while in a Reserve Component, who had fewer than 4,320 retirement points as of December 31, 2017, and who elected to opt into BRS during the opt-in period
Retirement plan that equals to:
Retired Pay Base* times Multiplier %**
*Retired Pay Base – determined under Final Pay, High-36, or BRS depending on military service date of entry
Note that in both cases the multiplier is limited to 75% by law
The below chart provides the basic criteria to determine which retirement plan applies:
All four of the regular and non-regular retirement plans determine initial monthly retired pay by applying a percentage multiplier to the retired pay base.
There are two methods for determining the retired pay base. They are the final pay method and the high-36 month average method. The final pay method, as the name implies, establishes the retired pay base equal to final basic pay. The high-36 method is the average of the highest 36 months of basic pay divided by 36. This is generally the last 3 years of service and is sometimes called high-3. The method used depends upon when the member first entered military service.
The method is determined by DIEMS (Date of Initial Entry to Military Service) or DIEUS (Date of Initial Entry to Uniformed Services). The date a member first entered uniformed service in any capacity establishes DIEMS. This date is fixed---it does not change. Departing the military and rejoining does not affect DIEMS.
Some individuals have unique circumstances that complicate determining their DIEMS. Here are a few examples:
Be aware that pay date (e.g., Pay Entry Base Date) may be different than DIEMS. Also, DIEMS does not determine when creditable service toward retirement is calculated---it only determines which retired pay base method applies.
For both the Final Pay and High-36 retired pay plans, each year of service is worth 2.5% toward the retirement multiplier. For example, 20 years of service would equal a 50% multiplier. The years of service creditable are computed differently depending upon whether retirement is from full time active duty or from a reserve career. These differences are explained under the Active Duty Retirement and Reserve Retirement pages.
For the REDUX retirement plan, which applies only to certain active duty retirements as described above, the High-36 multiplier is reduced by one percentage point for each year that the member has less than 30 years of service at retirement. For example, 20 years of service would equal a 40% multiplier. This is discussed more fully under the Active Duty Retirement page.
For disability retirement programs, the multiplier will be the higher of (a) the disability percentage assigned by the Service at retirement not to exceed 75%, or (b) the result of multiplying the number of years of service by the applicable retirement plan multiplier (e.g., 2.5% for High-36 or 2.0% for BRS).
In any case, the longer an individual serves, the higher the multiplier and the higher the retirement pay. For example:
All military retirements are protected from inflation by an annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as measured by the Department of Labor. Under the Final Pay, High-36, and BRS retirement plans, the annual COLA is equal to the percentage increase in the CPI year over year. Under REDUX, the COLA is reduced, as described in the table below.
Select one of the following topic areas: