Every single day, I meet a service member or spouse who either doesn’t know about the military’s new Blended Retirement System (BRS), knows wrong information about BRS, or doesn’t know enough about BRS. It’s worrying and frustrating and concerning all at the same time.
For anyone who is eligible to opt-in to the BRS, this may be the biggest financial decision of your military life. (If you make it to retirement, the Survivor Benefit Plan choice is also a contender for most important decision.) It’s scary that people don’t even know what they’re deciding.
In an attempt to make sure everyone is getting as much information as possible, here’s a list of every online resource I know to learn about BRS. It is vitally important that every service member who is eligible to opt-in to BRS understands what they’re choosing.
Keep in mind, though, that this information isn’t just available online. Every service member is receiving in-person training, and my sources tell me that most commands are inviting spouses to this training. Also, installation family support centers have personal financial counselors/specialists who can meet with individuals to make sure they understand what they’re reading and hearing. Lastly, you can get individual education, online or via the telephone through Military OneSource.
Joint Knowledge Online (JKO)
The official place to learn this information is through Joint Knowledge Online (JKO). Spouses who do not have a Common Access Card (CAC) may apply for a JKO account at this webpage: https://secure.jten.mil/jkohd/sponsored.jsp. Depending on your computer’s settings, you may have to click through some security warnings to get to the page. This account request will require validation from a .gov, .mil, ndu.edu, nps.edu or dodea.edu email address.
There are five BRS trainings available at JKO:
- Blended Retirement System (BRS) Opt-In Course (this is the course that is mandatory for BRS-eligible service members)
- Blended Retirement System (BRS) Financial Counselor-Educator Course
- Leader Training to Introduce the Blended Retirement System (BRS) for the Uniformed Services
- Blended Retirement Calculator Course (Active) (this course online shows up after enrolling in above classes)
- Blended Retirement Calculator Courses (Reserve) (this course online shows up after enrolling in above classes)
The Department of Defense
Main BRS webpage with lots of links – there is an amazing amount of information linked form this page!
The Department of Defense has put together a playlist of videos about BRS. These include:
Military OneSource offers a variety of resources, including:
When you’re looking for different perspectives or non-official information, there are many websites and blogs that are talking about BRS.
Military Life Planning with Daniel Kopp:
Christine Maxwell of Her Money Moves:
Airmen Mildollar from Military Dollar:
Sean Gillespie from Redeployment Wealth Strategies
Military Families Magazine: 3 Things to Consider with the Blended Retirement System
the Atlantic’s City Lab: How a Change to Military Benefits Will Affect Millions of Workers
The window to opt-in to the Blended Retirement System ends 31 December 2018. If you’re eligible, and you haven’t made a thoughtful and educated choices, read this stuff today. Don’t wait until the last week of December – one forget, or a down server, and you’re locked into the legacy system forever, even if that isn’t what you want.