Retirement Services Program
Army National Guard: Drilling
Benefit Fact Sheet
The Army Soldier for Life Retirement Services Program provides assistance to Soldiers and their Families preparing for and transitioning to retirement, Families of Soldiers who die on active duty and Retired Soldiers, surviving Spouses and their Families. Through a network of Retirement Services Officers (RSOs) at major Army installations, National Guard State Headquarters, and Army Reserve Regional Support Commands worldwide, they: 1) provide counseling to these groups on their rights, benefits and entitlements, 2) assist with Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) elections, 3) assist with Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) elections and 4) keep the retiree population informed of law and benefit changes.
Pre-retirement services of local RSOs are available to active duty, ARNG, and USAR Soldiers and their Families. Post-retirement program services are available to all Retired Soldiers, surviving Spouses, and their Families.
Major program components include:
- Mandatory Pre-retirement Orientation- All Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers should receive a pre-retirement briefing between 18-19 years of qualifying service and if still in service between the ages 58 and 59. However, for RC Soldiers who will begin receiving retirement pay before age 60 under provisions of Title 10 United States Code section 12731; the pre-retirement briefings will be conducted prior to the adjusted retirement date. Click here to view the Reserve Component Retirement System.
- Mandatory Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) and Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Counseling-Reserve Component Soldiers who have received their Notification of Eligibility (NOE) for Retired Pay at Age 60 (the 15 or 20 year letter) will receive a mandatory RCSBP briefing and "gray area" benefits briefing upon receipt of their 15 or 20 year NOE. If the Soldier will retire with a Regular (active service) retirement, the RCSBP election will be nullified and no payment will be required on RCSBP premiums.
- Reserve Component Soldiers must complete their SBP election on a DD Form 2656-5 within 90 days of receipt of the Notification of Eligibility (NOE) for Retired Pay at Age 60 (the 20-year letter or 15-year letter). If an RCSBP election is not made within 90 days of the receipt of the NOE, the Soldier will receive automatic Option C full RCSBP coverage for the dependents (spouse and or children) on the date of the NOE. If the Soldier is married, the Spouse must sign the form and have the signature verified by a Notary to provide concurrence with the election when Soldier elects anything other than full coverage. Without the spouse's written notarized concurrence prior to date retired, the Soldier will receive the maximum level of coverage allowable under the law. If the Soldier chooses option A (no RCSBP coverage choice), then Soldier can make an SBP election when he or she applies for non-regular retired pay at the age of eligibility(usually age 60), however no survivor benefit coverage will be provided if the Soldier dies prior to age 60. If the Soldier chooses Option B (deferred annuity until age 60) or Option C (immediate annuity), those choices automatically become the SBP election when Soldier applies for non-regular pay, around age 59 or earlier if Soldier qualifies for early retired pay under the provisions of Title 10 United States Code section 12731. If Soldier retires with an Active Duty or regular retirement, any RCSBP choice will be nullified and no RCSBP premiums will be due. Soldier can make a new SBP election on their regular retirement on a DD Form 2656.
- Special provisions will be made for medically retiring Soldiers who are so severely wounded/injured that neither the Soldier nor a Family member are able to attend a pre-retirement/SBP briefing. Such special briefings will be conducted during the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process.
Pre-retirement briefing policy
- Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers who have received their Notification of Eligibility (NOE) for Retired Pay at Age 60 (the 15 or 20-year letter) will receive a mandatory RCSBP and "gray area" benefits briefing within 6 months of transitioning off active drilling status. All RC Soldiers still in service will receive a pre-retirement briefing between ages 58 and 59.
- Provisions must be made to assist medically retiring Soldiers who may be so severely wounded/injured that neither the Soldier nor the Family members are able to attend a preretirement/SBP briefing.
- Upon notification, conduct the mandatory pre-retirement briefing for severely wounded/injured Soldiers who may be medically retired during the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process.
- Retiree Council Programs-HQDA Retirement Services administers the Chief of Staff, Army Retiree Council; each installation RSO administers an Installation Retiree Council. The main objectives of the councils are to provide input to Army leadership on significant issues affecting the retiree community and to help the Army communicate with the retired community across the Army.
- Retiree Appreciation Days (RADs)- RADs are conducted by installation and Reserve Component (RC) RSOs to keep retired Soldiers and their Families informed of rights, benefits, and privileges and to foster goodwill between the retired and active duty communities. RADs are conducted at least annually by major Army installations in CONUS and by garrisons in overseas command. Click here for current schedule. These will usually be publicized in Army Echoes and in local installation newsletters sent to the retiree community in their area of operation.
- Army Echoesand Installation Retiree Newsletters-The Army Retirement Services Program publishes the Army Echoes bulletin three times per year to keep Retired Soldiers and Spouses in touch with the Army and informed of their rights, benefits, and responsibilities. Army Echoes is sent electronically to all retirees with a myPay account at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). Each major Army installation also publishes a retiree newsletter specific to their geographic area at least once per year. The Army will no longer mail the hardcopy edition of Echoes to Soldiers who retire after January 1, 2012.
- Upon retirement, all Soldiers, regardless of component, are entitled to receive the Army Retiring Soldier Commendation Program Package. The package includes the following:
- Full-color letter signed by the Secretary of the Army, Chief of Staff of the Army, and Sergeant Major of the Army.
- Full-color box carrier.
- U.S. Flag, measuring 3 feet by 5 feet, cotton outdoor.
- U.S. Army Retired Lapel Button.
- Two DA Label 180 "Soldier For Life" window decals.
- Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA)-RSOs assist the servicing legal assistance office in their area in counseling active and Retired Soldiers, Spouses and former Spouses on this legislation.
- For more information about the services provided by the Army Retirement Services Program, please see the Web sites in the "Additional Information" section below.
For more information, visit the Web site maintained by the Department of the Army Soldier for Life at:
Retirement Services Program Army Regulation 600-8-7:
Army Retirement Service Officers:
For National Archives Military Records Request information:
Document Review Date: 29 February 2016