Blended Retirement System Opt-In Period Closure

Flag Voice #496 


January 1, 2018 marked a significant moment in the history of military compensation a modernized retirement system known as the Blended Retirement System (BRS) went into effect after becoming law in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. Nearly a year later, Direct Access continues to accept elections to enroll in the BRS, but the window for opt-in eligible members to choose the BRS is closing. With few exceptions, such as cadets through the Class of 2021, reservists in a non-pay status in 2018 or prior service new accessions, the opt-in period for the over 30,000 eligible members ends on December 31, 2018.

 To be eligible to elect the BRS, Coast Guard active duty members must have a Date of Initial Entry into Military Service (DIEMS) prior to December 31, 2017 and have less than 12 years of service based on their pay effective base date. Similarly, Coast Guard Reservists must have a DIEMS date on or before December 31, 2017 and accumulated less than 4,320 retirement points before that date. Our newest members, personnel with DIEMS on or after January 1, 2018, are automatically enrolled in the BRS and do not have a choice in retirement systems.

Choosing a retirement system is a consequential personal decision; one that should be thoroughly researched and discussed with family members. There are many resources which members can use to assist them in their decision-making process including CGSUPRT money coaches, the BRS comparison calculator, Auxiliary Financial Educators, and other organizations in the financial industry. I strongly encourage Senior Leaders to have their members prepare for this financial decision with the same diligence and perseverance employed when carrying out their Coast Guard mission. Particular attention should be given to our youngest enlisted members. Most enlisted members leave the Coast Guard before 20 years of service, and, under the legacy system, those members will leave with zero government-provided retirement savings. Eligible members who enroll in the BRS will depart the Coast Guard with some retirement savings via government automatic and matching contributions in a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account.

The decision to enroll in the BRS is irrevocable, meaning it cannot be changed once made. If the BRS is suitable for a member’s situation, then they must use the “My BRS Elections” self-service page in Direct Access. The Coast Guard BRS website hosts several opt-in guides and a short video showing the opt-in process. No one will be automatically enrolled in the BRS. If members do not take any action, they will remain in the legacy “high-3” retirement system.

ALCOAST 414/18, the final SITREP for BRS implementation, offers several important tips for those members still considering the BRS. After enrolling in the BRS,participants should always check their TSP contribution percentages in Direct Access. To maximize government matching TSP contributions under the BRS,members should contribute five percent of their Basic Pay though member contributions of one or two percent still receive the government match.

 RADM William G. Kelly

Assistant Commandant for Human Resources

Issue date:   12/14/2018