ISS1 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Page 41 of 55

Blended Retirement System (BRS) Update In the RESERVIST (Issue 3 2016), the new Blended Retirement System (BRS) which takes effect on January 1, 2018, was introduced. As a recap, the BRS consists of four components that distinctively combine to deliver a new blended annuity package categorized by a defined retirement pay benefit; automatic and matching contributions to service member's Thrift Saving Plan (TSP), a continuation pay, and a lump sum option. Everyone who joins military service after January 1, 2018, will be covered under the new BRS. Service members with less than 12-years of active duty (fewer than 4,320 retirement points for reservists) as of December 31, 2017, will have the choice to opt-in to the BRS during calendar year 2018, or remain under the current retirement plan. Those members with greater than 12-years of service, or 4,320 points, will remain in the current legacy retirement system. The decision to opt-in is irrevocable, so all members should carefully consider their own personal circumstances, time in service, career intentions, and financial situation to determine which retirement system is best for them. The defined BRS pay benefit formula will use a 2.0 percent per year multiplier times the number of years served (total points divided by 360 for reservists), times the average of the members highest 36 months of basic pay, in lieu of the 2.5 percent multiplier under the legacy system. This equates to an annuity of 40 percent of basic pay for 20 years of service versus 50 percent of basic pay at 20 years of service under the current retirement system. Additionally, for those enrolled in the BRS the Coast Guard will automatically contribute an amount equal to 1 percent of basic pay to your TSP after 60 days of service for new accessions and on the next pay period following selection for those who choose to opt-in. If Service members contribute to TSP, the Coast Guard will match the member's contribution starting at three years of service for new accessions and on the next pay period following selection for those choosing to opt-in. Contribution matching is capped at 4 percent and will stop after completion of 26 years of service for all enrolled members. At the start of 3 years of service, this contribution is the member's to keep regardless of whether or not they achieve 20-years of qualifying service. This means if you separate from the Coast Guard before reaching retirement, you now leave with a portable retirement benefit (TSP), which is not part of the current defined retirement plan. However, as with similar retirement accounts you may incur a penalty and taxes for early withdrawal. Continuation pay is a payment similar to a bonus at the completion of 12-years of service available to those who agree to serve an additional 4 years. Active Component member payments will be a minimum of 2.5 times their monthly basic pay and Reserve Component member payments will be a minimum of 0.5 times the monthly active duty basic pay. These multipliers can be increased by the Coast Guard, with some limits, to meet Service needs. With BRS there is a lump sum option that will allow members to take a 25 or 50 percent lump sum at the time of retirement that will reduce the monthly retired pay by a corresponding 25 or 50 percent until age 67. After age 67, the monthly retired pay annuity will return to the full amount. If selected, members may choose to take the lump sum payment all in one single year or to receive payments in up to 4 equal consecutive annual installments. There will be four different focused training modules provided over the next year that will provide all members and supervisors the information and tools to increase awareness of the BRS. The courses will be hosted in the Department of Defense Joint Knowledge Online (JKO) learning environment and can be accessed through the Coast Guard Learning Management System (LMS). The Leader Training to Introduce the BRS for the Uniformed Services was released in June 2016, and is mandatory for all military personnel in pay grades E-6 and above. The course will provide leaders with a basic understanding of BRS. This will help them answer basic questions and provide assistance to those looking to get additional information to better inform their decision of whether to select or not select the BRS. To access the course log into the LMS at It is listed as course #100122 located under 'Mandated Training B' under the 'Mandated Training' in the 'Course Catalog.' Enroll in the course and go to 'My Account' to launch the course. Follow the directions to access the course through the JKO link and to re-access LMS to record completion. The BRS Personal Finance Counselors training course was released in October and is also available in LMS at https://elearning., listed as course #100141. The course is currently available via CG LMS and is mandatory for Personal Financial Management Coordinators, Command Financial Specialists and Pay/Personnel Staff. This course provides those counselors/educators additional background in BRS to provide appropriate information and referral to assist service members form a decision based on their specific circumstances. The BRS Opt-In training course is scheduled to be available January 31, 2017. This course will educate members with less than 12-years of service, or less than 4,320 points for reservists, to make an informed decision to opt-in to the BRS or remain under the current retirement system. The Opt-In course will be available throughout calendar year 2018, to provide members ample time to complete the course before they make their decision no later than December 31, 2018. The BRS New Accessions training course will be available at officer and enlisted accession points after January 1, 2018, for all newly affiliated Service members. More information about the new Blended Retirement System is available on the CG BRS website: blended_retirement.asp Additionally, questions regarding the BRS or related items should be directed to COMDT (CG-133) at HQS-PolicyandStandards@ — Submitted by Mr. Grafton "Chip" Chase, Office of Reserve Affairs Rese R vist Magazine t he M o R e Y ou k now 40 RESERVIST � Issue 1 • 2017

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