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Eligible Airmen may choose retirement plan at 14 1/2-year mark

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- The Air Force Personnel Center has developed an automatic notification process that sends a message directly to active-duty Air Force and headquarters Active Guard Reserve members when they reach 14 1/2 years of active service.

The new process will help ensure eligible military members are aware of their options in choosing a retirement plan with ample time to make an educated decision.

Prior to implementation of the new process, only about 52 percent of Airmen acknowledged the notification message, and during the new process preliminary testing, 95 percent of Airmen responded to the message.

The Career Status Bonus (REDUX) program was implemented in 1986. It allows Airmen who initially entered service Aug. 1, 1986, or later the option to choose either the REDUX retirement plan or the High-3 retirement plan once they have 14 1/2 to 15 years of active service. In 2000, a $30,000 bonus was approved for Airmen who choose REDUX.

Information about each retirement plan, including a link to a retirement calculator, is available on the myPers website. Enter Career Status Bonus or REDUX in the search window.

"Our goal is to ensure all eligible Airmen know what their options are and are able to make informed decisions," said Ann Lacey, a member of the military retirement policy and procedures branch. "We don't want to steer Airmen one way or the other, but we do want them to be aware that they have reached the decision eligibility point. So, we also use the notification message to point them to resources that will help them choose the most beneficial plan for them."

Under the new notification process, Airmen will get an email at their 14 1/2-year mark. The email will include an embedded link to an information page with an acknowledgement button. Airmen must click the acknowledgement button to let AFPC know they are aware of their options. Doing so will take them to a page that includes in-depth information about each option.

"Acknowledging that you've been notified does not mean you are accepting the REDUX plan or rejecting it," Lacey said. "It just lets us know that you are aware. For Airmen who are unable to respond to the initial notification, we'll send three follow-up reminders."

The default plan is the High-3 retirement plan, so once Airmen have acknowledged the option to choose, if they do nothing, they will automatically get the High-3 plan. Airmen who want the REDUX plan must complete the election form, have their commander sign it and then submit it to AFPC by their 15 years of active-service date.

Because of significant differences between the two plans, Air Force officials recommend Airmen seek financial counseling before they make a decision.

"Every Airman and Family Readiness Center is required to have a certified financial counselor on staff, so we recommend that all Airmen contact their local center for assistance before they make their retirement plan decision," said Jeffrey Nelson, a community readiness analyst with AFPC. "Every Airman's situation is different, and our counselors won't direct Airmen one way or the other. What they will do, is work with each Airman to help them understand the impact their decision will have, short-term and long-term."

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