MOAA Survey: Sound Off on the Blended Retirement System

MOAA Survey: Sound Off on the Blended Retirement System
Illustration by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes/Air Force

MOAA suspects the implementation of the Blended Retirement System resulted in significant cost savings for DoD and a reduction of a benefit. To support advocacy efforts on this issue, MOAA has launched a survey of currently serving (active duty, National Guard, and Reserve) members building upon data collected from those in uniform in 2018.  


If you are currently serving, please take the survey at this link to support our advocacy. If you are retired or not on active duty or in the reserve component, please share the survey with your network of those still in uniform.


[ON TWITTER? Tweet a Link to MOAA’s BRS Survey]


Why Did the Retirement System Change?

The legacy retirement system, called “High-3,” was viewed as expensive and old – a “Cadillac retirement” plan when the civilian sector was well into a transition from company pensions to 401(k) plans. Lawmakers believed a 401(k) for servicemembers would be more egalitarian, allowing those leaving service before reaching the 20-year mark to leave with their 401(k) funds.


Under BRS, the government would put 1% of a servicemember’s salary into their Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) retirement account, along with up to 4% in matching funds.


Unfortunately, many young servicemembers can’t afford to contribute 4% … and DoD likely saved money. Also, BRS may have incentivized midgrade leaders to leave uniform before reaching 20 years of service.


With these concerns in mind, MOAA has embarked on this longitudinal study to determine whether BRS is effective. If the study points to low TSP contributions by servicemembers, retention problems, and a poor return on investment, MOAA may be able to advocate for improvements to the retirement program.


BRS Bottom Line

Mandatory BRS classes surrounding the system’s rollout typically ended with a servicemember understanding BRS was not a great deal: If you stay for a career, you get less, but at least you get something. 


But less is still less, and servicemembers are taking note.


It is not difficult for currently serving families to recognize erosion of benefits and services – they’ve seen it through military housing hazards, increased health care costs and longer wait times, child care program shortages … and now a retirement plan that’s worth less.


MOAA appreciates our uniformed servicemembers and their families. We encourage you to take the survey and to encourage other servicemembers to do the same by sharing the link.


MOAA Looks Out For You

MOAA is committed to protecting the rights of servicemembers and their families. Lend your voice and support these efforts today. Because the larger our voice is, the greater our impact will be.


About the Author

Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)
Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)

Belinsky retired in 2019 after serving 22 years, with overseas tours to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, and Germany. He joined the MOAA team in 2019 as Director, Currently Serving and Retired Affairs.