On Watch: DoD Considers Change to the BRS, But Only for Enlisted

June 30, 2017

The Blended Retirement System (BRS) has a 401(k)-style savings plan that includes government matching on contributions (1-percent baseline government contribution, plus up to 4 percent more in matching contributions). Currently all matching stops at the 26-year point, but the Pentagon is proposing to lift the 26-year cap on matching contributions for enlisted members.  

Ever since changes to the retirement system were made public, MOAA has lobbied to lift the 26-year cap, as it seemed arbitrary and unappreciative of every year of service and sacrifice. Seems the Pentagon now supports our logic - but not quite all the way.

MOAA maintains the same position we formed a few years ago on this subject - every year of service warrants recognition, accounting, and inclusion in the complex formula tied to the various aspects of retirement, to include government matching.

This is not asking too much. In fact, the population of enlisted personnel, officers, and warrant officers with 26 years or more of service comprise just over 7 percent of the entire active duty military. The field narrows quite noticeably at the 26-year point. Gone by then, mostly, are the E-7s and below; the same for most O-4s and below, with exceptions for those with prior enlisted service. Warrant officers can spend a few more years on active duty beyond 26. 

Consider: How valuable are senior members of all ranks to the military's leadership core on the battlefield and all the way up to the Pentagon? If you serve in a system that has matching contributions as its main retirement-building feature, you should be able to participate in that feature of the plan to maximize your retirement benefit. There is only one reason to cap the matching contributions at any point - to save the government money.

MOAA is encouraged by the Pentagon's proposal to lift the cap at all, and we do not intend to compromise this effort for our enlisted force. However, we also support a broader, more complete action that recognizes every year for every individual who continues to serve our nation.