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Defense Department launches retirement system comparison calculator

The Defense Department officially launched the Blended Retirement System comparison calculator, providing BRS opt-in eligible service members their first opportunity for an individualized comparison of retirement systems. The comprehensive tool, in combination with the mandatory BRS Opt-In Course, will assist the nearly 1.7 million opt-in eligible service members and their families make an informed decision on whether or not to elect the new retirement system. The BRS goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

“We have designed an all-in-one calculator that is intuitive to use and takes into account the unique financial situations of our active duty, National Guard and Reserve service members,” said Tony Kurta, performing the duties of undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. “The calculator presents to service members the information needed to make an effective comparison. The calculator will provide service members the ability to compare estimated benefits between their current retirement plan and BRS prior to making this important decision.”

Service members can adjust 12 inputs to reflect their personal situation and planning assumptions to see how changes to their career and savings will impact retirement benefits over the long-term. With a simple click, service members can change any of the inputs and re-run the calculations as many times as needed. The comparison calculator provides personalized estimates based on a service member’s individual information, career progression, pay and bonuses and retirement options. The all-in-one calculator was designed for the total force and can be used by active duty, National Guard and Reserve service members.

The official DOD comparison calculator is the only calculator endorsed by the DOD for supporting a service member’s Blended Retirement System opt-in decision.

“Service members may use any calculator they feel can aid them in the decision making process,” said Kurta. “However, only the DOD BRS comparison calculator has been validated by the department as complying with all DOD and BRS policy and tested for accuracy.”

The comparison calculator is intended to be used in conjunction with the mandatory BRS Opt-In Course, which launched Jan. 31. The opt-in course is focused on comparing the current legacy military retirement system (often referred to as the high-3 system) and the new Blended Retirement System, along with elements on financial management and retirement planning for service members. Service members are encouraged to take the Opt-In Course prior to utilizing the BRS comparison calculator. The decision whether to opt into the BRS is a completely personal one and the DOD takes no position on which system a service member should elect.

“While the calculator is a valuable resource, “said Kurta, “it should not be the only resource used in making an opt-in decision.”

Service members are encouraged to use all resources available to them in the decision making process, to include completion of the BRS Opt-In Course, utilizing the BRS Comparison Calculator, accessing the online BRS resource materials and scheduling time with a personal financial counselor or manager. Service members can get free, personal support from an accredited personal financial counselor or manager through their installation’s Military and Family Support Center. Search online at http://militaryinstallations.dod.mil/ or http://www.jointservicessupport.org/spn.

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