What is a Personal Financial Counselor?

Since we’ve been spending so much time talking about benefits you can earn in the future, let’s talk this week about something which can use while you are still in the service.  You have noticed how a lot of my topics so far have involved a lot of numbers and dollar signs, right?  Well, wouldn’t it be nice if there was someone – other than me, of course – who could sit down with you and personalize all those numbers, even help make them make more sense?  Good news.  There is such a person.

 

Every branch of service has personal financial counselors (PFCs) available to help you and your family understand your finances as they are right now and help you develop a plan to improve your situation in the future.  I have worked with several of these individuals over the years and have seen firsthand how valuable a resource they can be.  Though they may have different job titles, they all have the relevant education and experience to help you out.  These are civilian professionals contracted by the military from different companies (the National Guard, for example, uses Zeiders Enterprises).  These companies vet the counselors’ qualifications and manage their assignment to various locations.

 

All PFCs are Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), Chartered Financial Consultants (ChFCs), Accredited Financial Counselors (AFCs), or some other variant within the financial consulting profession.  Some of them are better versed in areas such as investing or life insurance, but they all have an overlapping level of education and experience which of beneficial to service members and families.  Regardless of their certifications, PFCs can assist with financial issues such as:

  • debt reduction
  • budgeting
  • retirement
  • estate planning

This is by no means a complete list.  There is much more these people can do for you.

 

Let me go over some of the education these people have. All PFCs have, at a minimum:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Specialized financial training
  • Certification from an accrediting agency
  • At least 1,000 hours of experience before certification
  • A requirement of at least 30 hours of continuing education every two years
  • Continuous recertification from their accrediting agency

 

Here is an example of a typical job announcement from Zeiders for a PFC.  You can find a link to this announcement in the references section below.

 

*****

 

Job Summary:

The Personal Financial Counselor (PFC) program is seeking qualified individuals to work full-time with Service Members and their families on personal financial issues such as budget planning, credit management and debt reduction, as well as retirement and estate planning. These full-time positions are located on military installations throughout the continental Unites States and selected overseas locations.

 

Principal Responsibilities:

The majority of Service Members and their families will require financial counseling and education to assist with establishing a basic level of financial literacy, good financial behavior and habits, long term financial planning to include retirement planning.

 

The PFCs will be responsible for:

  • Identifying immediate and long range measures to increase income, reduce household expenditures, and avoid additional financial burdens.
  • Personal budget/financial planning to reduce, eliminate, and avoid debt and to achieve solvency and stability.
  • Teaching Service members (and their families) money management techniques to encourage them to live within their means.
  • Understanding credit, finance charges, interest rates and the implications of only paying the minimum amount each month.
  • Educating military families on the importance of maintaining excellent credit histories and ratings.
  • Establishing, monitoring, and protecting their credit.
  • Teaching Service Members to make informed decisions and to be aware of associated costs such as insurance, maintenance, fuel costs, etc.
  • Educating and counseling Service Members – about their retirement systems and providing financial models to assist them in establishing a comprehensive retirement plan.
  • Assisting with tax planning.
  • Teaching Service Members and their families how to save for emergencies, unanticipated contingencies, and both short and long-term goals.
  • Other duties as assigned.

 

PFCs will traditionally provide support in one of three ways. Any combination of the three may be requested by the installation coordinator.

  • Face-to-Face financial counseling: PFCs support and educate individuals and families to help address specific needs, including provision of appropriate resource referrals.
  • Financial briefings: Facilitate briefings designed to promote awareness and educate Service Members and their families on various personal finance topics. PFCs facilitate requested briefings using a library of approved presentations and handouts on a variety

of financial topics.

  • Resource table: PFCs perform outreach and engage event attendees in conversations about setting financial goals, guidance to appropriate resources, as well as discussions on all areas of personal finance.

 

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS:

  • A minimum of a Bachelor’s degree coupled with 2+ years of experience in financial counseling or education.
  • A national certification as an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC), Certified Financial Planner
  • (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).
  • Counselors shall maintain a valid, unrestricted motor vehicle license.
  • Demonstrated experience in utilizing MS Office products (Excel, Word, PowerPoint).
  • A criminal history background check that includes a credit check, as well as an FBI fingerprint check are required to work in this program.

 

DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Previous military experience (including military spouses and/or as a service provider)
  • Ability to travel up to 10% including some weekends with advanced notice.
  • Ability to facilitate financial workshops and trainings to large groups and ability to tailor presentations to audiences as needed.
  • Knowledge, skills, and abilities such as:
  • Working knowledge of military, state, federal, and local resources.
  • Understanding, sensitivity, and empathy for Service members and their family members.
  • Ability to develop trusting helping relationships.
  • Ability to work effectively with individuals and families from diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Ability to use sound professional judgment, ethical practice, and common sense. Ability to develop, implement, and evaluate financial needs of individuals and families.

 

*****

 

Now that I’ve hyped up the PFCs, you might have a few questions going through your mind.  I’ll try to predict some of them and answer them for you now.

 

Is there any cost to use the Personal Financial Counselors?

Not at all.  While financial planners can charge as much as $150 per hour or an initial flat fee around $2,000, they are available at no cost to you.

 

Will the PFC recommend financial products for me to purchase or refer me to outside financial services?

Again, the answer is no.  Many of the contracted PFCs do have practices in addition to their consultation contract, they are forbidden by that contract from making recommendations for products and from referring you to either their or another financial planning business.  The PFC will offer advice and education only.  If you choose to make use of such a company in addition to consulting with the PFC, that is your prerogative.

 

How can I find a Personal Financial Counselor?

For the National Guard, the PFCs are usually attached to your state’s Family Programs branch.  You often can find contact information for family programs through your state’s National Guard website.  I have included a few useful links in the references section.  The best news, though, is the PFCs will assist any currently serving military member or military family regardless of branch.  Like any of us, they need numbers of contacts in order to maintain their positions.  Help them out and make an appointment to speak with a PFC when you’re able.

 

I think that is enough to get your mind working on a few things such as your current financial condition and questions you’d like to ask the PFC.  I hope this has been an informative and useful article for you.

 

Join me next week when I will talk about an issue specific to officers (though there is a similar thing for enlisted members): the mandatory removal date and how it can affect a career path.

 

As always, please post any questions or comments in the comments section below.  If you think this article can be beneficial to another person, please share the link with them and spread the word about this website.

 

Thanks again for joining me today and, of course, thank you for your service.

 

D.J.

References:
Certified Personal Financial Counselor Job Announcement – Zeiders Enterprises
National Guard Financial Management Awareness Program
Personal Financial Management and Taxes (Military OneSource)
How to Access Financial Counseling Through Military OneSource
Army Reserve Family Programs
Service Provider Network
MyArmyBenefits Resource Locator


Podcast Episode 0022 – What is a Personal Financial Counselor?

 

References:
Certified Personal Financial Counselor Job Announcement – Zeiders Enterprises
National Guard Financial Management Awareness Program
Personal Financial Management and Taxes (Military OneSource)
How to Access Financial Counseling Through Military OneSource
Army Reserve Family Programs
Service Provider Network
MyArmyBenefits Resource Locator


YouTube Episode 0024 – What is a Personal Financial Counselor?

https://youtu.be/9OMPKjP-Goo

References:
Certified Personal Financial Counselor Job Announcement – Zeiders Enterprises
National Guard Financial Management Awareness Program
Personal Financial Management and Taxes (Military OneSource)
How to Access Financial Counseling Through Military OneSource
Army Reserve Family Programs
Service Provider Network
MyArmyBenefits Resource Locator


Mrs. Gloria Jackson – An Introduction to the Fettinger Project

The Blended Retirement System series is finally complete.  I think it’s time to talk about something other than boring forms, all sorts of numbers, and bits of public law.  I’m going to tell you about an effort that has been ongoing in my region for quite a while now.  Like any good story, it is rife with ups and downs, victories and defeats.  I’ll begin with how this project began and then continue with the most recent story to develop from it.

 

The name of the lady who inspired this endeavor is real.  I have permission to use her name and story in the efforts of identifying and assisting other people who face similar situations such as hers.  All other names and, in many cases, locations have been changed in order to protect privacy.

 

In late 2013, Mrs. Kathleen Fettinger approached our Survivor Outreach Services section to inquire about any service benefits her husband may have earned.  The SOS Coordinator, Mr. Frazier Thompson, asked me to join in the conversation after a few minutes (I was only a few desks away at the time).  Mrs. Fettinger’s husband, Gerard, has passed away two years before after a multi-year battle with cancer.  He was sixty-two years old when he died.

 

As the conversation developed, we soon discovered that Master Sergeant Fettinger had never applied for his military pension when he turned sixty.  His physical and mental condition had deteriorated significantly as a result of his medical treatments.  This caused him to forget completely about his military service and his retirement benefits.  Mrs. Fettinger also was not aware that he had earned anything of the sort to include survivor benefits.  Naturally, we jumped at the chance to assist this lady. To further sadden the situation, the amount of retirement MSG Fettinger would have received – along with the Tricare benefit – would have been enough to keep them from having to declare bankruptcy.  The short answer is we were able to get the survivor benefit for her right away and, after a yearlong wait for the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records to make its decision, also obtained all of the retired pay her husband would have received.

 

Later that day after Mrs. Fettinger had left us, I was talking about her case with a volunteer who was helping us in retirement services.  We were stunned by the fact that someone had not applied for the benefits he had earned at the right time.  As the conversation progressed, we began to wonder how many others out there were like MSG Fettinger.  The good news was I had the tools to answer that question.  Over the course of the next several weeks, I scoured our National Guard retirement points database, information from Army Human Resources Command, and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).  Ultimately, a list of forty-five names appeared.  My volunteers, members of the Survivor Outreach Services section, other coworkers, and I began to search for these people.  We dubbed our efforts “The Fettinger Project” in honor of Mrs. Fettinger and her husband.  As of this writing, all but one has been located (that guy is living off the grid in a cabin somewhere in the forests of North Carolina).

 

I would like to tell you about the last person we found on that list.  Who knows?  I might make this into a recurring series of good (and sometimes bad) stories.

 

Sergeant John Jackson was a man I feared we would never find.  He was nine years late in applying for pay.  Not only did he have a very common name and live in a large city with dozens of people with that name and similar age, his contact information was so old as to be completely useless.  Pretty much, I had given up on him.  There was still that needling urge to keep trying from the little man in the back of my head, though.  Every now and then when I had a moment to breathe at work, I would continue in my search.

 

A few months ago, Mr. Thompson, whom I mentioned earlier, introduced me to a smartphone app which had helped me locate a name on the list.  I decided to try again one morning during some downtime at a leadership conference a few weeks ago.  Of course, there were again several names on the list which could have been SGT Jackson.  One of them, though, had a previous address which was the one I had in my old records.  I dug deeper into the profile on the app.

 

In the list of possible addresses was another bit of information: the time first and last seen near that address (in a way, it’s scary how much information is online).  The address at the top of the list, possibly the current address, had this information, as well.  I gasped in audible dismay when I read it.  The last time he was seen in that area was 2008.  I actually felt chills at this point.  Could he have died years before and we would never be able to help him as a result?

 

I dug further, this time using a search engine, and felt myself crash further.  I found his obituary and the place where he was buried, a state military cemetery in the northern part of the state.  He was fifty-nine when he passed away.  I remember releasing my pent-up breath at this point.  It was over.  I had found him too late.  In fact, I was five years too late when I even began looking for him.  Failure.  Complete, abject failure; the worst sensation imaginable in this line of work.  I had failed to help him and his family. Or had I?

 

Another thought came into my mind.  Wasn’t SGT Jackson married?  Was his wife still alive?  I delved into what few records I had on him and found his survivor benefit election certificate.  There is was.  He was married to Gloria.  Was she still with us?  Could I find her perhaps?

 

Back to the app I went.  Almost instantly, I found a name with the correct age.  It even had the last address I had found for SGT Jackson.  There were two possible phone numbers.  By this time a coworker had walked up and noticed my obvious intensity.  I quickly explained what had happened in the last few minutes.  He visibly paled and then brightened again as he listened.  I picked up my cell phone and dialed, a silent prayer on my lips.  The other side of the line rang twice and then went to voicemail.  I left a message and immediately tried the other number.  It rang incessantly with no answer.

 

I tried those numbers fanatically over the next three days. There was no change.  The first number always went to voicemail after two rings and the second just rang on and on.  The specter of defeat loomed again.  What was I to do now?

 

A strange thought came to me at that point.  Several weeks earlier, I had located one of the few people left on the Fettinger list by asking assistance of the local police department.  In that case, I had contacted a police operator and asked simply whether the retiree was in fact living in the town or not.  Upon hearing my story, the operator decided to call him and give him my number.  The retiree called back half an hour later.  Would this option work for Mrs. Jackson?

 

I decided to try it.  I called the local police and recited my tale to the operator.  At first, I thought it did no good whatsoever.  The operator said he would look into it.  How detailed a response could I expect, though?  I was asking for the personal information of a private citizen after all.  The next day, however, I got a bit of a surprise.  The deputy chief of police called me and left a message.  We played phone tag for another day before finally catching each other near our phones.  He listened to my more descriptive version of the story and made a decision on the spot.  He would go to Mrs. Jackson’s house and deliver the message.  “It will be my feel-good story for a Friday,” he said.  That was around one o’clock in the afternoon.  I figured I would not hear anything further until Monday.

 

For the next half hour, I tried to plan some training with a coworker but we were interrupted by a visit from our former branch chief.  The work slowly devolved into the laid-back conversation of many office workers on a Friday afternoon.  Just goofing off and waiting for quitting time.  Even I, a noted workaholic, am susceptible to it on occasion.  Our talk continued when the phone rang.  I answered it in a casual tone since I expected it to be nothing more than the average request for information from somebody or another.

 

“Hello, this is Gloria Jackson,” I heard through my Bluetooth headset.  I nearly sprang out of my chair.  My coworker scooted away from me slightly to give me room.  Having overheard my call with the deputy chief, he knew what was happening.  I vaguely remember him telling the former branch chief about it ask I answered Mrs. Jackson.

 

She was alive and well.  She had a different address and phone number, but she had finally been found.  The deputy chief had left his card with a message at her house and a friend had contacted her.  She had taken a break from work and called me right away.  Count your minor miracles.

 

Mrs. Jackson asked who I was, why I was looking for her, and what it had to do with her husband.  I explained it all.  Amazingly, she was very much like Mrs. Fettinger in her response.  She did not know her husband had earned a pension and also did not know about the survivor benefit.  She was skeptical. That much was obvious. Maybe I was a scam artist, she may have thought. I tried to talk her through her suspicion. I couldn’t let this small victory slip away. She finally agreed to meet me but only in a public place.  I said she could choose any location she liked.  She suggested the station where the deputy chief worked.  I agreed instantly and arranged a time (I was two hours away and need time to get there).  I then called the deputy chief who readily acquiesced to my request to use his facility.

 

I was practically shooed out of the office by all of my coworkers.  They were quite familiar with my obsession with this project.  I have practically a full mobile office in my vehicle; a printer, office supplies, et cetera.  All I had to do was pop my work laptop off its docking station and throw it in its travel bag.  After topping off the gas tank, I was on the way.

 

I began to think about the implications of what I was about to do.  Not the meeting of a retiree or a spouse outside of the office.  I actually do this with quite a bit of regularity (call it part of the obsession).  I realized as I drove that I had more to do than a simple survivor annuity application.  I had to deal with bureaucratic annoyances galore, as well.

 

For example, since this request for a survivor annuity was nine years after the death of the retiree, Army Human Resources Command definitely was going to reject it.  They do this automatically for any survivor request more than six years old. This is in accordance with a law called the Barring Act which disallows back payment of government obligations older than six years. I had to prepare an appeal to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records.  They were the only entity with the authority to overturn the rejection.  Even if the board agreed with the appeal, they still have the obstacle of the Barring Act.  I had learned a year and a half ago from a person at DFAS that a waiver can be obtained for this limitation (up to $25,000).  I would have to write the request for a waiver, as well.

 

I know all of this sounds like the whining of a soft-handed office worker. Well, I wasn’t always an office guy.  I was a real soldier once and the loyalties you develop don’t wither away rapidly. We are talking about the welfare of a military family member, by the way.  I experienced the same necessity to help her that I did when I lost friends while overseas, an overwhelming compulsion to do whatever must be done for the families of the fallen.  This wasn’t just another task for a desk monkey.  It was a mission to help someone in need.

 

I had just developed my plan and was almost at the police station when I received another call from Mrs. Jackson.  She was going to be an hour late because she still needed to find some of her husband’s records (I had asked her to bring whatever she could find).  This was actually a good sign for me.  It would give me time to prepare all the items I would need to assist her to the fullest.

 

I arrived at the station and set up my equipment.  The deputy chief had assigned another policeman to escort me (he had texted me saying he couldn’t be there because his wife would have his hide if he didn’t get home soon).  The officer who met me was a member of the Air National Guard and was completely sympathetic to my mission.  As with any two service members when they get together, we shot the bull for a while.  Finally, though, I had to get to work.  Mrs. Jackson would be there soon.

 

And she was.  I had only been working for about half an hour when she showed up early (well, earlier than our new meeting time).  She was already in tears.  It was her husband’s birthday.  She told us as she entered the conference room that she had imagined I was actually there to tell her he was actually alive.  Oh, how I wish I had that kind of news for her.  Instead, I was only there to tell her about service benefits and money.  How that pales compared to the loss of a loved one.

 

Mrs. Jackson and I did nothing but talk for an hour.  She would reminisce about her husband and I would just listen. Occasionally, I would ask a question.  Sometimes it was something I needed to know for one of the many packets and sometimes it was just conversational. I was reminded that she was ten years younger than her husband and learned also that she was working full-time to support herself. After a while, we slowly got to the business of our meeting.

 

I started by showing her the amount of the survivor annuity.  I apologized for the fact it would only be $334 per month.  She stated that paltry sum would make a great difference in her life.  That is when I learned that her take home pay from her job was only $1,500 per month.  I then showed her the first six years of back pay she could expect once we got everything fixed up: $24,400.  If the waiver to the Barring Act was granted, there would be another $10,000.  That is a total of over $34,000.  Her eyes became misty at that point.  Admittedly, I became the same upon seeing her reaction.

 

I asked if she was paying a premium for employer-provided health insurance.  She said yes.  I brought up the Tricare coverage she had actually had available since her husband’s sixtieth birthday (she never knew).  She started to cry in earnest now.  “I didn’t know he did all this for me,” she said.  The policeman accompanying use gave of a tissue for her tears.

 

We talked some more.  During the chat, she mentioned that her husband had served in Vietnam.  I perked up again and asked to see the DD 214 from his Vietnam service.  She showed it to me. I asked if her husband’s death was somehow related to this service. As we discussed it, I decided it just might be.  Things had just improved for her yet again.

 

You see, there is a stipend from the Veterans Administration called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (or DIC).  It is a monthly amount of $1,257.95 which is paid to spouses of members who die from service-connected causes.  Now it does offset the survivor annuity dollar for dollar which means it would completely wipe out the $334 per month.  However, there is another type of payment called the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) which is added to whatever remains of annuity (if any) and to the DIC.  It would be another $310 per month (this allowance is currently set to expire on 30 September 2017 unless it is extended by Congress).  I then made an appointment for her to meet with a Veteran Services Officer (VSO) in my area who could help her apply for DIC.  I thought it was worth the effort.  $1,567.95 per month beats $334 no matter what type of math you’re using.

 

I finally told Mrs. Jackson about all of the bureaucratic hoops through which we’d have to jump in order to get all of this arranged for her but added that the chances were excellent. She admitted that everything seemed quite surreal to her and stated that it was as if her husband were still watching over her.  The officer seconded that thought.  We signed everything and chatted some more. I then saw Mrs. Jackson to the door and promised to meet her again when she came to see the VSO (as of this writing, the meeting has not yet occurred). I also thanked the police officer for sticking with us through the entire three-hour meeting.

 

Overall, it was a good night.  I desperately wanted a cigar and a glass of scotch by the time I got back to my apartment, though.  I was exhausted but hopeful for Mrs. Jackson.  Here’s hoping that it all works out positively for her.

 

*****

 

Thank you for joining me in the recounting of this story. I believe it is quite uplifting when all is said. It’s incredible that I have done my best to summarize this event and it has still amounted to five pages of written material.  Who knows what it will be when I actually post it to my blog.

 

I ask that you spread the word about this event.  Who knows how many other service members and their families are experiences similar circumstances.  I hope the other retirement services officers out there will be willing to replicate our efforts.  The results are invigorating to say the least.

 

I also ask that you spread this article around.  This is the kind of thing that people need to know.  They need to know about the efforts the RSOs are making. They need to know the effects this has on military families.  If you’ll do that for me I will greatly appreciate it.

 

Next week, we’ll get back to our usual business of explaining service benefits.  Until then, thank you for joining me and thank you for your service.

 

D.J.


Podcast Episode 0021 – Mrs. Gloria Jackson – An Introduction to the Fettinger Project

Let’s hear a good news story this week.


YouTube Episode 0023 – Mrs. Gloria Jackson – An Introduction to the Fettinger Project

https://youtu.be/rRC_WLaKXfM

Let’s hear a good news story this week.


Where Can I Find Other Training About the Blended Retirement System?

 

Rejoice, you have made it to the last article in my series on the Blended Retirement System (at least until new information comes along).  Let’s dive into those murky waters one more time.

 

RCRetirement.com, naturally, is not the only source of information about the Blended Retirement System. The Department of Defense (DOD) also wants all service members who are eligible to convert (those with fewer than 4,320 retirement points) to BRS to be able to make an informed decision.

 

The DOD as well as other agencies has developed numerous brochures, lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs), and video training for its members to learn about BRS.  Most of these resources are optional but a few of the web-based videos will be mandatory soon.

 

Military One Source, militarypay.defense.gov, and Joint Knowledge Online are the three primary sources of viable information about BRS.  Except for RCRetirement, of course, I would recommend not believing any information about BRS you see from other sources.  I refer you back to my article, “Myths about the Blended Retirement System,” as an example of some of the misinformation that is out there.

 

I will only talk about the three primary web-based training videos that out there in this article.  You can look at the ever-expanding list of references below for considerably more information.

 

There will be links to the three videos, as well.  There are two links for each video.  One requires a Common Access Card (CAC) to access and the other does not.  Which one you use is up to you.  Some branches of service may require that you take the CAC-enabled course so they can track who has and who has not completed it.  You can always preview the course by looking at the non-CAC version, of course.

 

I won’t go into specifics about the courses.  I recommend you take them for yourself.  Personally, I recommend all three courses so you can learn as much as possible.  At a minimum, take the opt-in course.  If you’ve read all of my articles about BRS, there is a high likelihood you’ve learned as much as the leader course offers at least.  The opt-in course or its classroom equivalent will be mandatory next year for all those who are eligible to convert to BRS.

 

The first iteration of the three videos is designed for leaders (E5 and above, typically) so they can assist in counseling their people.  It provides a general overview of BRS.

 

Next we have the course designed for financial counselors and class facilitators.  This course, along with a seventy-four page facilitator’s guide (link below) will assist with the development of separate classes about the BRS.  It will also be useful for financial counselors who consult service members on individual basis about their conversion options.

 

Finally, and most importantly for the individual service member, we have the individual opt-in course.  This course, in either the online or classroom version (based on the requirements of each service), will be required training for all eligible members.  This course must be completed before a member can choose to convert to the new plan.

 

For your convenience, I have recorded all of these coursesand will be posting them on YouTube as a playlist no later than noon this Friday.  At the time of this writing, I’m still editing them to reduce the lag time from internet hiccups and loading screens.  I will place the link to the playlist in the show notes.  Please keep in mind that viewing the training in this manner is for informational purposes only and will not satisfy your service’s training requirements.  Think of this more as a readahead.

 

Take a look at the courses that interest you.  As I said, I think taking all of them would be beneficial.

 

If you have any questions about anything I’ve covered in this article, please post them in the comments section below.

 

Join me next week when I will talk about the likely method you will use to make the conversion to BRS.

 

Thanks for joining me today and, of course, thank you for your service.

 

D.J.

 

References:
Department of Defense BRS Education Strategy
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the New Blended Retirement System
Blended Retirement System (MilitaryOneSource)
The Uniformed Services Blended Retirement System
DOD Implementation of the Blended Retirement System
BRS Implementation Timeline
Are You Opt-In Ready?
BRS Infographic – Active Component
BRS Infographic – Reserve Component
Value of a Retirement Point Chart for 2017 (Legacy System)
Value of a Retirement Point Chart for 2017 (Blended Retirement System)
TSP Under the Blended Retirement System
Global Pay Self Service (Coast Guard)
MyPay
Thrift Savings Plan Website
BRS Opt-In Course Facilitator’s Guide
Blended Retirement System Leaders Course (CAC Only)
Blended Retirement System Leaders Course (Non-CAC)
Blended Retirement System Financial Counselors / Educators Course (CAC Only)
Blended Retirement System Financial Counselors / Educators Course (Non-CAC)
Blended Retirement System Opt-In (Individual) Course (CAC Only)
Blended Retirement System Opt-In (Individual) Course (Non-CAC)
Blended Retirement System Comparison Calculator

Related YouTube Episodes:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2
The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System
What Other Effects Will the Blended Retirement System Have?
JKO BRS Training Videos Playlist (includes Leader Training, Financial Educator, and Opt-In Courses)

Related Podcast Episodes:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2
The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System
What Other Effects Will the Blended Retirement System Have?

Related Articles:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2
The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System
What Other Effects Will the Blended Retirement System Have?


Podcast Episode 0020 – Where Can I Find Other Training About the Blended Retirement System?

References:
Department of Defense BRS Education Strategy
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the New Blended Retirement System
Blended Retirement System (MilitaryOneSource)
The Uniformed Services Blended Retirement System
DOD Implementation of the Blended Retirement System
BRS Implementation Timeline
Are You Opt-In Ready?
BRS Infographic – Active Component
BRS Infographic – Reserve Component
Value of a Retirement Point Chart for 2017 (Legacy System)
Value of a Retirement Point Chart for 2017 (Blended Retirement System)
TSP Under the Blended Retirement System
Global Pay Self Service (Coast Guard)
MyPay
Thrift Savings Plan Website
BRS Opt-In Course Facilitator’s Guide
Blended Retirement System Leaders Course (CAC Only)
Blended Retirement System Leaders Course (Non-CAC)
Blended Retirement System Financial Counselors / Educators Course (CAC Only)
Blended Retirement System Financial Counselors / Educators Course (Non-CAC)
Blended Retirement System Opt-In (Individual) Course (CAC Only)
Blended Retirement System Opt-In (Individual) Course (Non-CAC)
Blended Retirement System Comparison Calculator

Related YouTube Episodes:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2
The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System
What Other Effects Will the Blended Retirement System Have?
JKO BRS Training Videos Playlist (includes Leader Training, Financial Educator, and Opt-In Courses)

Related Podcast Episodes:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2
The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System
What Other Effects Will the Blended Retirement System Have?

Related Articles:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2
The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System
What Other Effects Will the Blended Retirement System Have?


YouTube Episode 0022 – Where Can I Find Other Training About the Blended Retirement System?

https://youtu.be/fgeq9ckVhiM

References:
Department of Defense BRS Education Strategy
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the New Blended Retirement System
Blended Retirement System (MilitaryOneSource)
The Uniformed Services Blended Retirement System
DOD Implementation of the Blended Retirement System
BRS Implementation Timeline
Are You Opt-In Ready?
BRS Infographic – Active Component
BRS Infographic – Reserve Component
Value of a Retirement Point Chart for 2017 (Legacy System)
Value of a Retirement Point Chart for 2017 (Blended Retirement System)
TSP Under the Blended Retirement System
Global Pay Self Service (Coast Guard)
MyPay
Thrift Savings Plan Website
BRS Opt-In Course Facilitator’s Guide
Blended Retirement System Leaders Course (CAC Only)
Blended Retirement System Leaders Course (Non-CAC)
Blended Retirement System Financial Counselors / Educators Course (CAC Only)
Blended Retirement System Financial Counselors / Educators Course (Non-CAC)
Blended Retirement System Opt-In (Individual) Course (CAC Only)
Blended Retirement System Opt-In (Individual) Course (Non-CAC)
Blended Retirement System Comparison Calculator

Related YouTube Episodes:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2
The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System
What Other Effects Will the Blended Retirement System Have?
JKO BRS Training Videos Playlist (includes Leader Training, Financial Educator, and Opt-In Courses)

Related Podcast Episodes:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2
The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System
What Other Effects Will the Blended Retirement System Have?

Related Articles:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2
The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System
What Other Effects Will the Blended Retirement System Have?


What Other Effects Will the Blended Retirement System Have?

Now that we’ve covered the three biggest effects of the Blended Retirement System will have, let’s talk about some of the other aspects of the plan.  There is a lot of room for misunderstanding with these particular features so I’m going to try to be very specific about them.

 

As we’ve all heard, part of the intent of the new plan is to provide a level of portability of some retirement benefits if you leave service with less than twenty qualifying years.  Now, let me be clear.  This portability is not the ability to take part of the retired pay you would have earned during those years (that is another of the big myths out there).  The portability aspect only refers to the Thrift Savings Plan contributions you have made as well as, if you are vested, the matching funds you have received. Being vested means you have at least two years of service.

 

Now, before you think you’ve been gypped by this feature, keep this in mind.  The twenty-year pension has always been an all-or-nothing feature of military retirement.  You either have twenty years of qualifying service or you don’t.  That has not changed.

 

The only exception for reservists has been medical disqualification for continued service.  In that situation, you are still able to receive retired pay if you have at least fifteen years of qualifying service, but I digress.  The eligibility for a military pension remains the same.  You can keep the Thrift Savings Plan money and either leave it in the TSP or roll it into another qualified plan.

 

The next major feature of BRS is the ability to opt for a lump sum payout of part of the total value of your retired pay.  You can choose to take a 25% or 50% lump sum or choose to take no lump sum at all.  No, this doesn’t mean you can take a lump sum payout as soon as you go to the Retired Reserve when you’re forty.  If you’re a reservist, you still must wait until your Retired Pay Eligibility Date (RPED) which is usually age sixty (unless it has been reduced by qualifying active duty service).

 

If you choose to take the lump sum option then you should know the effect this will have on your monthly pension.  Taking the lump sum will reduce the monthly amount of your pension by roughly the amount of the percentage of the payout you chose to take plus about ten percent.  The actual math (a formula called the discounted present value) is a bit more complicated so I won’t go into that in this article.

 

If you take the lump sum, the reduction in monthly retired pay will remain in effect until you reach full Social Security age which, for most of us these days, is age sixty-seven.  At this point, your monthly retired pay will be recalculated to pay the same amount as if you had not taken the lump sum.

 

Let’s look at a greatly simplified example.

 

Command Sergeant Major Cochran (an E9, for those of you in other services) can expect retired pay of about $2,069 per month.  He chooses to take 25% of the value of his retirement as a lump sum payout.  He receives a one-time payment of $18,612 (this is taxable, by the way, and will be offset by any VA compensation he receives).

 

As a result, his monthly retired pay is reduced to about $1,551.  His monthly pay will remain at this rate (adjusted by inflation, of course) until he reaches full Social Security age.  When he turns sixty-seven, his retired pay will be return to its original amount of $2,069 (this does not take annual cost of living allowances into account).

 

This is a lot of information to absorb all at once so take some time to review this article again for clarity.  I have found sometimes that reading it aloud helps.

 

If there are any questions or concerns about what I have said this week, please comment below and I will do my best to answer you.

 

Please join me next week when I will discuss where you can find other sources of information and video-based training about the Blended Retirement System.

 

Thanks for joining me today and, of course, thank you for your service.

 

D.J.

 

References:
The Uniformed Services Blended Retirement System
DOD Implementation of the Blended Retirement System
BRS Implementation Timeline
Are You Opt-In Ready?
BRS Infographic – Active Component
BRS Infographic – Reserve Component
Value of a Retirement Point Chart for 2017 (Legacy System)
Value of a Retirement Point Chart for 2017 (Blended Retirement System)
TSP Under the Blended Retirement System
Global Pay Self Service (Coast Guard)
MyPay
Thrift Savings Plan Website

Related YouTube Episodes:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2

The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System


Related Podcast Episodes
:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2

The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System

Related Articles:
What is the Blended Retirement System?
What Will the Blended Retirement System Do to My Pension?
Myths About the Blended Retirement System
Career Continuation Pay Under the Blended Retirement Plan
An Introduction to the Thrift Savings Plan
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 1
Let’s Talk About the Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan – Part 2

The Thrift Savings Plan Under the Blended Retirement System