New (1 JAN 2018) Military Retirement System

Starting next year those who enter military service to include Reserve personnel will be enrolled in what is called the Blended Retirement System or BRS.

If in service before next year, a military member is grandfathered into the current retirement system. Some current members however also may opt for the new system. As of December 31, 2017, Reserves who have accrued fewer than 4,320 retirement points and regular members with fewer than 12 years can opt into the new system or continue the legacy system. They will have from 2 Jan 18 until 31 Dec 18 to make such an election if they so desire or they will stay in the legacy system.

Retirement eligibility stays the same and retired pay for Reserves still starts at age 60.

The BRS basically is a Thrift Saving Plan with government contributions; matching contributions after 2 years of service and automatic government contributions after 60 days’ service.

The selling point is that under the new system 85% will receive some kind of portable retirement benefits as opposed to 19% now. This is supposed to be a recruiting and retention matter.

The above is a gross summary and anyone with issues on this needs to look further into the program. The comment is designed by the author to provide Ambassadors a short idea of what BRS is all about. Questions are sure to develop.

Minuteman Scholarship Rules New Limits and Suspenses

Ambassadors have added an exciting new element to this program that invigorated the ROTC program with Army Reserve Candidates this past year. Cadet Command has changed the program from the free wheeling we experienced before anyone knew the power we as Ambassadors had. The following is a basic review of the new suspense’s and allotments. More will follow on this once we get the management organized. Hopefully we will be able to utilize all our ambassador allotments. We can share. I already used my two four-year scholarships and was queried yesterday regarding a three year scholarship for a college graduate who is interested in going back for nursing courses in order to earn a BSN. Am not sure how that will work with the ROTC program but nurses are in great demand (one of my nominees is for a BSN (a nursing degree)).

Protected nomination window for the Minuteman is 15 JAN thru 15 JUN

ARNG TAG: 6 per State (324) 2 nominations for 4YR and 4 for 3YR or less

USAR MSC: 4 per MSC (120) 2 nominations for 4YR and 2 for 3YR or less

CASA’s: 2 nominations for 4YR and 2 nominations for 3YR or less

Ambassadors: 2 nominations for 4YR and 2 nominations for 3YR or less

16 JUN starts “Open Season”

All unused TAG and MSC allocations will be centralized at USACC and ANY State or MSC may nominate from OML/Board rankings
CASA and ARA nominations are respectfully reserved nominations
Open Season nominations will be on a first come-first served basis when received at RMID until all scholarships are exhausted

All scholarship packets MUST be to USACC by 15 AUG for Fall benefits to begin.

Supplemental Health Care Plans; Tricare for Life May Obviate the Need

This is an issue for folks who are retired and under medicare Part B and Tricare for Life. Basically it finds that supplemental health care programs are unnecessary. It is an individual matter and decision. The post below may assist in your determinations.

When a Retiree is on TFL (Tricare for Life), Medicare is the primary health care insurance with Tricare as a no-cost, wrap-around coverage (basically a no-cost supplemental plan). Retirees pay for TFL out of their Social Security (if they are drawing Social Security) or directly to the Social Security Administration if they are still working or are simply waiting to draw their Social Security. When a Retiree or Spouse turns 65, they must leave traditional Tricare, whether Prime or Standard. By law, they cannot remain on either. To qualify for TFL, you must pay for Medicare Part “B” and update DEERS with your Medicare information. You don’t have to take part in TFL (by paying for Part “B”), but it would behoove you to do so (TFL is excellent health care, and the cost is much lower than other plans that offer similar coverage) as you will only have Medicare Part “A”, which only covers only hospitalization. Numerous Retirees have found themselves in a financial bind by using VA health care and military medical facilities instead of TFL, thinking they are saving the cost of Medicare Part “B”. But when they are moved from a military medical facility to a civilian hospital (due to severe illness or injury) there is no wrap-around coverage to pay for what Medicare Part “A” does not. This is not a situation you want to find yourself in.

Supplemental Health Insurance.

Supplemental health insurance, while providing peace of mind, does much the same as TFL, but at a cost. TFL payments consist of a payment that normally comes out of your Social Security, with Tricare providing wrap-around benefits at no additional cost. To determine where a supplemental health insurance plan could make sense, one has to look at their location and type of Tricare. If a Retiree is on Tricare Prime, there is no reason for a supplemental. Prime has an annual enrollment fee only and a catastrophic cap (maximum out-of-pocket) of $3000 per fiscal year. A catastrophic cap is the point where a Retiree’s responsibility for payment ends and Tricare picks up the bill for everything else. This means that one would have to pay the enrollments fee and a whole lot of pharmacy and physician cost-share dollars to even get close to the point where the Retiree would no longer pay the remaining charges. It is exceedingly unlikely the expenses of someone who is on Prime, would ever exceed $3000 in a year.

Information on Concurrent Retirement Disability Payments (CRDP)

This is a little known issue but may affect folks you know. It is complicated and my advice is if faced with questions refer folks to this post or the email below at the bottom of this post.

Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) allows military retirees to receive both military retired pay and Veterans Affairs (VA) compensation. This was prohibited until the CRDP program began on January 1, 2004 because of the VA “waiver” or offset. The VA waiver or offset, prior to 1 January 2004, would reduce retired pay by the same amount, dollar-for-dollar, that a service member received from the VA, as compensation. It is important to understand that CRDP is not an additional payment. Rather, CRDP simply removes the VA waiver/offset, thus allowing you to receive all of your retired pay and all of your VA compensation. To be eligible for CRDP, a retiree must meet the following requirements:
You must be eligible for retired pay to qualify for CRDP. If you were placed on a disability retirement, but would be eligible for military retired pay in the absence of the disability, you may be entitled to receive CRDP.

Under these rules, you may be entitled to CRDP if…

* you are a regular, length-of-service (20 years or more of active federal service), retiree with a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater.

* you are a reserve retiree with 20 qualifying years of service, who has a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater and who has reached retirement age. (In most cases the retirement age for reservists is 60, but certain reserve retirees may be eligible before they turn 60. If you are a member of the Ready Reserve, your retirement age can be reduced below age 60 by three months for each 90 days of active service you have performed during a fiscal year for mobilization in support of a contingency operation since 28 January 2008).

* you are retired under Temporary Early Retirement Act (TERA) and have a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater.

* you are a disability retiree who earned entitlement to retired pay under any provision of law other than solely by disability and you have a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater. In this situation, might become eligible for CRDP at the time you would have become eligible for retired pay, providing you have at least 20 years of active federal service.

Note-If you were immediately retired from the Army Reserve or National Guard due to disability and have less than 20 years of active federal service, but do have a notification or eligibility to receive retired pay (also known as a 20 year letter) and you have a VA rating of 50% or more, you will most likely qualify for CRDP, but not until you would have been eligible for retired pay for a non-regular retirement (normally age 60).

Note- In certain situations, Soldiers who are qualified for and receiving CRDP will still have a VA waiver/offset. This happens when Soldiers who qualify for a regular, length-of-service retirement (have more than 20 years of active federal service), are retired due to disability and have disability retired pay that is more than they would have received for a regular retirement. The VA waiver/offset in this situation reduces the disability retired pay amount to the amount that the Soldier would have received had they not been retired due to disability. The reason for this is the law does not allow a military member to receive more in disability retired pay than they would have received for a regular retirement.

For further information about this contact theodore.w.faulkner4.civ@mail.mil.

Possible Dissemination to Active Military and Retired Military Folks (or Your Use)

Walt Disney Resort has a great promotion for the military. Promotional tickets are for four (4) day visits to specified Disney properties for family and friends. The Four Day tickets are $209 and must be used (not necessarily consecutively) before December 19, 2017. Only one black out period of April 9-April 23 2017 (a time when the parks are packed). The tickets are on sale at U.S. military outlets. See also DisneyMilitaryOffers.com for more information.