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Deadline to choose retirement future is now

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- For many Department of Defense active duty military members, the deadline to select a retirement future is Dec. 31, 2018.

Currently two exist, the Blended Retirement System and the Legacy Retirement System.

The Blended Retirement System is a new retirement option for service members. It has been designed to benefit those people who may not envision their military service career lasting the minimum 20 years that is mandatory to receive the benefits the Legacy Retirement System can offer.

If you have less than 12 years on the active side, you have the choice to op-into the Blended Retirement System or not.

"It's OK to go either way, but please remember, choosing not to decide is a decision in itself and that decision is permanent," said Col. Jennifer Reeves, 341st Missile Wing commander.

Selection and opt-in rates for the Blended Retirement System have been low due to the likelihood of the new program not being well-understood.

The 341st MW wants to make sure Airmen have the necessary facts to make a solid decision before the deadline, and so the 341st Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center has taken the lead.

A&FRC financial counselors Tracie Faulk and Rebecca Burbach are working hard to get the message out about the program using workshops and one-on-one meetings with Airmen and their families.

"Attending one of our workshops takes the generalized information and interprets it for you and your situation," said Burbach.

"We will look at a person’s service career goals and family life," said Burbach. "Do they have children? Are they in a career with a high deployment tempo? What are their retirement plans? Do they want to travel or not?"

"We're currently offering the workshops, but we also work with squadrons and offer one-on-one counseling sessions," said Faulk. "However, with the holidays and the December 31st deadline, coming up, we are all running out of time."

"There has been some confusion on the different retirement routes available and which plans offer which benefits," said Faulk. "It's not that Airmen aren't concerned about their retirement, it's that they aren't sure what plans are available and how they work long term."

"It is important to understand where your money is going and why," Faulk continued. "The general information on the Blended Retirement System may be difficult to decipher, that's why we're here to help."

Faulk and Burbach are not financial advisors, they cannot access personal financial information and they do not directly deal with retirement funds.

They will not directly invest money on behalf of an individual or tell Airmen which investments, or which retirement system, to choose.

What they can do is help you find the information you need, interpret some of the legal speak, break down the parts of the program and what it can do, tell you if you're eligible and provide more data to make the best retirement selection.

"We are part of the Airman and Family Readiness Center and we help people focus on financial readiness and its personal impact," said Faulk. "We can provide education and help you get the most accurate information you need to make your selection before the December 31st deadline.

To register for a workshop, please call 731-4900. Workshops are offered at building 800 on Dec. 5 and Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. Additional workshops are offered December 11 and 14 at 9 a.m. Individual counseling sessions may also be scheduled by calling this number.
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