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Blended Retirement System Opt-In Period
Flag Voice #481

Implementation of the Blended Retirement System (BRS) on January 1, 2018 represents the largest change to Uniformed Services’ compensation in seven decades. Preparations to accommodate the modernized retirement system have been underway for the past 18 months to ready the Coast Guard and its members for the new retirement system. Beginning in January, 30,000 active and reserve members will have the option to enroll in the BRS using a self-service page in Direct Access, which will be available to accept elections starting January 1st. Eligible members who desire to remain in the legacy "high-three" retirement system do not have to take any action. All new accessions after January 1, 2018 will be automatically enrolled in the BRS and do not have a choice in retirement systems. The Career Status Bonus/REDUX retirement option sunsets on December 31, 2017 and will no longer be an alternative.

BRS eligible members are required to complete the Joint Knowledge Online (JKO) Opt-in course and self-certify completion in the Coast Guard’s Learning Management System. Currently, over 82 percent of eligible members completed the JKO Opt-in course. I strongly encourage all leaders to take an active role in preparing your people to make an informed choice. The JKO training coupled with the BRS comparison calculator work cooperatively to help members assess their retirement system options, but nothing beats engaged leadership at all levels to ensure our members and their families are prepared for this change.

Choosing a retirement system is a consequential decision, and the approach to that choice should be no different than the extensive preparations members undertake in executing the Coast Guard's missions. The CG Auxiliary and several qualified financial institutions remain available to supplement the JKO training and provide BRS and financial wellness education. The CG BRS website provides details for capitalizing on these education resources. While the Coast Guard has no preference in member retirement system elections, it is vitally important for individuals to make the decision that’s right for them and their families.

The start of the year-long opt-in period represents a landmark event in BRS implementation, but not an ending. BRS marketing and education efforts will continue unabated in 2018. The Integrated Planning Team remains focused on Direct Access enhancements, retirement manual development, new accessions training and resourcing all components of the BRS.

ALCOAST 357/17 contains a video message from the Vice Commandant, a video demonstrating the opt-in process and several important tips for those members considering the BRS.

RDML William G. Kelly

Assistant Commandant for Human Resources

Issue date: 12/13/17