Blended Retirement System: Guard, ReservesUpdated: December 23, 2022
The Blended Retirement System, also known as BRS, takes the place of the “legacy” military retirement system effective Jan. 1, 2018. As of that date, those who served after Dec. 31, 2005 (but before 1 January 2018) have a choice to make: opt into BRS or remain in the legacy retirement system.
Those serving on active duty prior to Dec. 31, 2005 do not have the option to switch to BRS, and those who go into active service after 1 January 2018 will be automatically enrolled in BRS and have no options under the legacy system.
The Department of Defense (DoD) states that the Blended Retirement System “retains the traditional defined benefit annuity, but adjusts the years of service multiplier from 2.5 percent to 2.0 percent for calculating monthly retired pay.”
The DoD says the legacy retirement system calculated the “defined annuity benefit” with this formula:
2.5% x years served x average of highest 36 months of basic pay.
BRS For Guard/Reserve Members
Members of the National Guard or Reserves should know that the opt-in requirements are “much broader” according to the DoD than for active duty service members.
According to MilitaryPay.Defense.gov, “Eligibility to opt into BRS is based on retirement points. National Guard and Reserve members with fewer than 4,320 retirement points as of Dec. 31, 2017, and who are in a pay status, will be eligible to opt into BRS, regardless of how many service or qualifying years they have accumulated.”
BRS does not change how retirement points are calculated for members of the Guard and Reserve. “Retirement eligibility and timing remains the same as it is under the legacy retirement system. National Guard or Reserve members with 20 or more qualifying years are eligible to receive their monthly retired pay starting at age 60 or earlier based on qualifying active service.”
Members of the Standby Reserve and the Individual Ready Reserve are technically eligible for BRS, but must be receiving pay in order to enroll.
Furthermore, Guard/Reserve members who make Thrift Savings Plan choices do not have to constantly update preferences when switching from activated to deactivated status. The choices you make carry over when activated or vice-versa.
Mandatory training on the Blended Retirement System is required for all in uniform identified as “eligible to opt-in”. See your unit orderly room, First Individual, or Base Finance Office for further information on how to receive training.