This article by Karen Jowers originally appeared on Military Times, the nation's largest independent newsroom dedicated to covering the military and veteran community.
Army Reserve and Guard members who chose the new Blended Retirement System and who will be eligible for continuation pay this year will see thousands of dollars more cash.
The Army has increased the continuation pay formula by eight times its previous rate for its Guard and Reserve members. The change doesn’t apply to Army active duty members, nor does it apply to any of the other branches of service. The service branches make their own decisions regarding this particular benefit, based on their retention needs.
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“I would personally view [the continuation pay increase] as a force retainer,” said Kevin Hollinger, legislative director for the Reserve Officers Association. He noted the active duty Army component met its retention goals early, but the Army Reserve and Guard failed to meet their retention goals in 2018.
About 1,500 members of the Army Reserve and 983 members of the Army National Guard will be eligible for continuation pay this year, under the Blended Retirement System, or BRS. They’ll see continuation pay at the rate of 4.0 times their monthly pay (calculated as if on active duty.) Previously, it was a multiplier of 0.5 percent at the 12 year mark for continuation pay.
What does that mean for members of the Army Guard and Reserve? For an E6 meeting the requirements, it means $13,562 more this year.
Under the previously announced multiplier of 0.5 times the monthly basic pay, that E6 would have received $1,937.40 (0.5 times $3,874.80). Now that jumps to $15,499.20, (4 times $3,656.40.)
The Army also changed the time frame for Army Reserve members to be eligible for the continuation pay. Army Reserve members are eligible when they reach 11 years of service. For Army Guard members, it’s still 12 years of service.
An estimated 1,500 members of the Army Reserve will hit the 11- or 12-year mark this year. Since the eligibility timing was changed at the end of last year, reservists hitting the 12-year mark this year will still be eligible. There are 983 Army National Guard members who either have or will reach the 12-year mark this year.
Officials estimate the cost of the continuation pay for Reserve members if every eligible member takes it would be roughly $20 million, under the new multiplier, including members of the AGR, whose multiplier remains at 2.5 as active duty members . The projected cost for the Army National Guard is about $14 million. Information wasn’t immediately available about how much higher these amounts are than the previous multiplier.
A recent RAND Corp. study found that those minimum multiplier levels of 2.5 for the active duty force and 0.5 for the Guard and Reserve are sufficient to support retention for enlisted personnel, but not for officers in each component.