The Big Pension Decision Military Service Members Must Make in 2018

Service members who joined armed forces in recent years must decide whether to stay in the military’s old retirement system or join the new one. Here’s how to choose the system that’s best for you.

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Question: I’ve been reading about the new military blended retirement system. When do I need to decide whether to switch to the new system, and how can I figure out which plan is better for me?

Answer: If you joined the military from 2006 through 2017, you have from January 1 to December 31, 2018, to decide whether to switch to the new “blended retirement system.” If you don’t do anything, you’ll continue to be covered under the old plan. (People who join the military after January 1, 2018, will automatically be enrolled in the new system, and those who entered the military before 2006 remain in the old system.)

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.