Decision time has arrived for current service members, regarding their future and plans for retirement. With the Uniformed Services Blended Retirement System taking effect Jan. 1, Pentagon leadership is urging current members who entered the military before the start of the new year to determine if their needs are better suited under the old or new retirement systems. Anyone who joins after Jan. 1 automatically will be enrolled in the blended-retirement system.

Under the new retirement plan, service members can qualify at retirement for a defined benefit based upon their basic pay, plus money they accrue through a defined contribution. The latter would include money each service member contributes to the government’s Thrift Savings Plan, plus matching funds contributed by the government.

Roughly 1.8 million current active-duty service members have the choice of either joining the blended-retirement plan, or staying with the old system that allows them to collect retirement pay based upon their pay grade after serving at least 20 years.

*Video from DoD

The window for making a decision that began Jan. 1 extends until Dec. 31. Once a service member makes a choice, he or she cannot change their mind.

The Defense Department and individual services all have web-based resources to help make the decision easier.

Here are some links to web resources:

* Army, Navy and Air Force:
* Marine Corps: (Marine Online)
* Coast Guard and NOAA Commissioned Corps: (Direct Access)

U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers should contact the USPHS Compensation Branch directly.

Service members can determine which plan is better for them using this online Comparison Calculator, at

Resource materials are available here:

Service members also can call Military OneSource, telephone 1 (800) 342-9647.