The Blended Retirement System went into effect Jan. 1, 2018. Find out more information at the link below to see if BRS is the right choice for your future.

Find out more about BRS at

BRS 5-Step Checklist

There are four components to the BRS that you need to be aware of:

  1. The defined benefit – this is the pension portion similar to the legacy pension
  2. The defined contribution -  this is your TSP, features a government match of up to 5%, but you have to contribute in order to take advantage of this feature.
  3. Continuation Pay - this is mid career incentive that can pay you from one half a months pay to 6 months pay in return for no less than 4 years additional service.
  4. Lump sum pay - This allows you to take up to 50% of your retired pay up front!


National Guard and Reserve BRS CalculatorDEFINED BENEFIT ON RETIREMENT
You’re eligible for this benefit after 20 years of qualifying service and at age 60, or earlier if you perform certain qualifying active service since the beginning of 2008.


This is the percentage of your basic pay that you receive for each year of service.

  • Defined benefit under the BRS:
    2.0% x years served x the average of your highest 36 months of basic pay.


If you opted into the BRS during calendar year 2018, you can immediately elect to contribute any whole percentage of your pay, up to the annual limits set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You will receive the Service Automatic (1%) Contribution, and Service Matching Contribution proportionate to your basic pay contributions, on the first pay period after opting in.


Under the BRS, you may receive up to 4 percent in Service Matching Contributions, on top of the Service Automatic (1%) Contribution based on the below chart. Automatic and matching contributions continue through the end of the pay period during which you reach 26 years of service.

BRS Service Contributions


Being vested means having ownership. You are always vested in (entitled to) your own contributions and their earnings. If you opted into the BRS, you’re also immediately vested in the Service Matching Contributions and their earnings. To become vested in the Service Automatic (1%) Contribution, you must have completed two years of service. All Service members who have completed two years of service are considered fully vested.

If you join the Uniformed Services on or after Jan. 1, 2018, you are automatically covered by BRS and subsequently enrolled into the TSP in an age-appropriate Lifecycle (L) fund with a default contribution of 3 percent of your basic pay. While you can opt out of this automatic enrollment, by law you will be automatically re-enrolled each calendar year. You can adjust your contributions anytime, as long as you stay within the annual limits set by the IRS. Service Automatic (1%) Contributions to TSP accounts start after 60 days. Your ability to earn Service Matching Contributions, up to an additional 4 percent, starts at the beginning of your 25th month of service.

Your TSP account is a portable retirement benefit. This means that when you leave service, you can have TSP transfer part or all of your account into an IRA or an eligible employer plan (for example, the 401(k) account of a new employer).

BRS Contribution types



Uniformed Service members covered by BRS are eligible to receive continuation pay, a one-time, midcareer bonus payment, in exchange for an agreement to perform additional obligated service. Your Service will determine the commitment, but it must be a minimum of three years. Continuation pay is payable between the completion of eight years of service, but before the completion of 12 years of service from your Pay Entry Base Date. It may be paid at any time during this period as determined by your Service. This one-time bonus payment is in addition to any other career field-specific incentives or retention bonuses you may receive or otherwise be eligible to receive.


Continuation Pay graphicPAY RATES

Pay-rate multipliers may be based on Service-specific retention needs, specialty skills and hard-to-fill positions, similar to career field incentives and re-enlistment bonuses. Each Service determines and publishes its own guidance on continuation pay rates.



Continuation pay — and other specialty pay, bonuses and incentives — can be invested along with basic pay in your TSP account, up to the annual maximum allowed by the IRS. Note that if you hit the maximum before the end of the calendar year, you could lose out on matching contributions.



Eligibility to opt into the BRS is based on your years of service as of Dec. 31, 2017, and you have all of 2018 to opt in. However, if you’re opt-in eligible but will hit the 12-year continuation pay cutoff date during 2018, you must enroll in the BRS before that time to be able to receive continuation pay.



Your taxable continuation payment may place you in a higher income bracket. You may elect to receive continuation payments in up to four equal installments over a four year period. This may help reduce your tax liability.

Under the BRS, Service members may be eligible to elect to receive a discounted portion of their retired pay up front. The decision to elect a lump sum at retirement is entirely up to you. If you do not choose the lump sum option, you’ll receive your full retired pay upon eligibility. If you opt for a lump sum, you will need to decide if you want 25 percent or 50 percent of your future retirement payments at retirement. You may receive one lump sum payment or annual equal payments — one a year for up to four years. Monthly retired pay reverts to the full amount at full Social Security retirement age, which is age 67 for most individuals.

When you take either 25 or 50 percent in a lump sum, your monthly paycheck will then be 75 or 50 percent of the full value of your monthly retired pay until you reach full Social Security age, which is age 67 for most individuals.

The lump sum of 25 or 50 percent is discounted to the present value based on an annual DoD discount rate published in June of each year. Note that a lifetime of equal, personal monthly payments is usually worth more. 

If you’re choosing the lump sum as a National Guard or Reserve Service member, you must notify your Service no less than 90 days before receipt of retired pay.

Click image below to enlarge in a new window.
BRS At A Glance
External Link Disclaimer
The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Army Reserve of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sites, the United States Army Reserve does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. All links are provided consistent with the mission of this Web site.

USAR Retirement Briefings