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Retirement Planning: What do Military Families Need to Know?

BY Spectrum Wealth Management | Nov 7, 2022
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Retirement is an exciting life milestone that requires careful planning and budgeting. For military families, it requires even more knowledge because you must ensure that you meet all the military’s qualifications and take full advantage of any veterans benefits coming your way.

To celebrate National Veteran and Military Family Month in November, let’s look at what military families need to know when approaching retirement planning, including how to make the most out of your benefits and how to live a comfortable civilian life.

Transition Assistance Program

The first thing to know when retiring from the military is that you will likely need to go through the Transition Assistance Program or TAP. TAP is a program that provides information, tools, and training to make your retirement as seamless as possible. Some of these training resources are optional, but some are mandatory before leaving the military.1

In the mandatory requirements, you may need to:

  • Complete an individualized initial counseling session
  • Complete the pre-separation counseling brief
  • Attend a mandatory briefing on transition preparation and your benefits
  • Have a final medical exam
  • Schedule your final move1

These requirements may be based on your individual circumstances, and each branch of the military has its own specific information. Check out the TAP website to find out everything you need to know.1

Post-Retirement Income

The most important part of retirement planning for anyone, including veterans and their families, is income planning. The goal of retirement-income planning is to have enough money to last through your retirement years. To do this, you need to understand your income sources and establish a budget accordingly.

There are a few different retirement pay options for military members and their families.

For service members with an entry date prior to September 8, 1980, you will receive a final basic pay. This is a defined benefit that equals “2.5% times the number of years of service times the member’s final basic pay on the day of retirement.”2

For service members with an entry date between Sept. 8, 1980, and July 31, 1986, you will receive “High 36,” which is a “defined benefit that equals 2.5% times the number of years of service times the average of the member’s highest 36 months of basic pay.” This retirement pay is also applicable to service members with entry dates after Aug. 1, 1986, and before Jan. 1, 2018, who did not choose REDUX or opt into the Blended Retirement System.2

Lastly, the military offers the Blended Retirement System. More than half a million service members are covered by the BRS. This system combines elements of the legacy retirement system with benefits similar to those offered in many civilian 401(k) plans.2

As you build your post-retirement budget, it’s important to know how much money you will be earning in retirement. In addition to the plans listed above, military families should consider taxes, annual adjustments, and Social Security benefits.

Insurance Planning

Medical expenses are a huge consideration in retirement. Luckily, as a veteran, you have access to insurance plans for yourself and your family.

The main one is TRICARE, but you must enroll yourself and eligible family members so you don’t lose these benefits. The TRICARE website has a lot of good information, including how to enroll and your health plan options. You must enroll in a TRICARE plan within 90 days of retirement.3

In addition to TRICARE, you may need to enroll in dental and vision insurance. You can do this through the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). FEDVIP is a voluntary program that allows you to choose from among 12 dental carriers and 5 vision carriers. How much you pay for these programs will depend on which ones you choose.3

As we celebrate National Veteran and Military Families Month and recognize all our military members’ hard work and sacrifice, we want to share as much information as possible so you can retire easily.


1. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/vets/programs/tap

2. https://militarypay.defense.gov/Pay/Retirement/

3. https://www.benefeds.com/education-support/dental-vision


Spectrum Wealth Management, LLC is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Additional information about Spectrum’s investment advisory services is found in Form ADV Part 2, which is available upon request. The information presented is for educational and illustrative purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice. Tax and legal counsel should be engaged before taking any action. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for purchasing or selling any security. 

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