JANUARY 15, 2019 – The Blended Retirement System opt-in enrollment period closed at midnight on Dec. 31, 2018, capping off the successful roll-out of a new retirement system for members of the uniformed services. More than 400,000 DOD service members chose to opt into BRS during the enrollment period, and more than 150,000 new members were automatically enrolled upon entering the service. In total, over half a million uniformed service members are now covered by BRS and able to begin receiving portable, government-provided retirement benefits.
The department is proud of the success of BRS implementation, which was made possible through a comprehensive training program for over 1.6 million people, an award-winning strategic communications outreach effort, and the cooperation, support, and extraordinary efforts of many agencies across the whole of government as well as numerous military and veterans service organizations and community partners.
BRS is the largest change to military retirement since World War II. BRS combines a traditional pension, in most cases earned once a member serves at least 20 years, with a 401(k)-style savings plan through the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The government contributions to TSP are vested early in a member’s career and go with that member when they leave the military even if they do not serve a full 20 years. Because of this, BRS significantly expands the number of Service members who will receive government retirement benefits. In just the first year, DOD contributed over $300 million to the TSP accounts of those service members participating in BRS.
“We are immensely proud of the incredible efforts it took to design and implement the policy and educate and train our forces on the Blended Retirement System,” says the Honorable Mr. James Stewart, who is performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. “We see BRS as an important change that will set America’s service members on the path toward greater financial flexibility, responsibility, and security.”
The BRS opt-in process was designed to provide eligible Uniformed Service members a choice for their own futures. The department encouraged service members to complete BRS training, seek financial counseling, consult with family, and make a personal decision on whether or not to opt-in. The department did not set a target or goal for opt-in, nor try to persuade members to opt into BRS.
While the primary opt-in period has now ended, there are members who have been granted extensions of the opt-in period based on provisions included in law. This includes those members with a date of initial entry into military service that was on or before Dec. 31, 2017, who are still either cadets or midshipmen, or who did not have at least 30 days during 2018 to make an opt-in decision following initial entry training, and certain other categories of personnel who will be afforded additional time due to special circumstances. Consequently, the total number of opt-in participants will continue to grow over the coming months and years.
BRS Resource webpage: http://militarypay.defense.gov/BlendedRetirement