You’ve been reading everything about the military’s new Blended Retirement System (BRS), and your situation doesn’t match up with the examples of who falls into the new BRS, the old legacy system, or the choice to opt in. How can you figure out which group you’re in?
With the military’s new Blended Retirement System, there is some confusion about who, exactly, is permitted to opt-in to the new system. For most people, it’s simple. However, there are a few groups who have more complicated situations.
There are two important dates involved, Date of Initial Entry Into Military Service (DIEMS) and Pay Entry Base Date (PEBD).
In the simplest terms, DIEMS is the day that you put your hand in the air and took an oath.
Here’s the Army’s Human Resource Command’s more thorough explanation.
“the date an individual was initially enlisted, inducted, or appointed in a regular or reserve component of a uniformed service as a commissioned officer, warrant officer, or enlisted member. Breaks in service do not affect a DIEMS date. Military Academy cadets (date of entry into the academy), ROTC cadets (date of scholarship contract or date the cadet began the advanced ROTC course, whichever is earlier) and members of the delayed entry program (Date enlistment contract signed, regardless of when the Soldier entered active duty) are considered under these provisions. The DIEMS is the initial contract signed via the Soldier; obligating the Soldier to any type of military service, even if it was later voided and determines which of the retired pay formulas a Soldier is eligible to utilize upon retirement. The DIEMS date is utilized to determine the length of service and associated benefits.”
In the simplest terms, PEBD is the date that you actually started your active duty service.
It can be a lot more complicated than that. If you have any break in service, or have moved between the active and reserve/Guard, your PEBD will have to be calculated using a formula explained in the DoD Financial Management Regulation, Volume 7A, Chapter 1, Creditable Service.
Pay Entry Base Date is also called Pay Entry Basic Date or Pay Entry Date.
So, What’s Confusing?
Not everyone has the same DIEMS and PEBD.
For folks that do have the same DIEMS and PEBD, it’s pretty simple: You’re serving on 31 December 2017, so you’re grandfathered into the old system. If you have less than 12 years of service on 1 January 2018, you have the option to opt-in to the new system.
But if your DIEMS and PEBD date are different, then it might not be completely clear whether you:
- are automatically in the new BRS system,
- are grandfathered into the old legacy system and do have the choice to opt-in to the new system, or
- are grandfathered into the old legacy system and do not have the choice to opt-in to the new system.
It may not be completely obvious which group you are in if you:
- if you are participating in the Delayed Entry Program,
- you are a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps,
- you are a student at a service academy,
- have mixed active and reserve/Guard service time, or
- some other situation I haven’t even considered.
After talking with quite a few folks, I’ve finally figured out a simple way to explain the situation, and my friend Daniel from Military Life Planning made my back-of-the-envelope scrawl into a pretty graphic.
The picture I sent to Daniel:
Daniel’s much more professional rendition:
To put this chart into words:
If your DIEMS is 1 January 2018 or later, you’re automatically in the BRS.
If you have more than 12 years of service or more than 4320 reserve points on 31 December 2017, you remain the legacy retirement system and do not have the option to switch to BRS.
If neither of those two statements apply to you, because your DIEMS on or before 31 December 2017 and you have less than 12 years/4320 point on 31 December 2017, then you are grandfathered into the old, legacy retirement system but have the option to opt-into the BRS. Generally speaking, you have 30 days after beginning active service (either active duty or reserve) to enroll. (Though folks who begin active service in 2018 will have through the end of 2018 to decide.)
There are lots of things to consider when deciding whether to opt-in to the BRS. Wondering whether you’re even eligible shouldn’t take a lot of time!
For more information in the Blended Retirement System:
Everything About The Blended Retirement System
Where To Learn About The Military’s New Blended Retirement System
The Basics of Retirement Plans, and the Military’s Old and New Plans
Do you want to know more about your military pay and benefits?
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