Retirement Services Program

Army Reserve: Active Duty

Benefit Fact Sheet

Summary

The HQDA 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 Readiness Divisions and Mission 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.

Eligibility

Retirement planning 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. 

Benefit Highlights

Major program components include:

Retirement Planning

  • Mandatory Retirement Planning Briefing -United States Army Reserve (USAR) Soldiers with 20 or more years of active service must attend a retirement planning briefing with an RSO between the time their retirement application is submitted and at least 12 months before their official retirement date (or the date of departure on transition leave). Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers who have received their Notification of Eligibility for Retired Pay at Age 60 (the 20 or 15 year letter) must receive a mandatory Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) briefing between 18 years of service and up to 60 days after receiving the NOE. If an AGR Soldier is eligible for a non-regular retirement, they may elect to receive a retirement planning briefing prior to applying for non-regular retired pay at age 60 or earlier if eligible for reduced age retirement under provisions Title 10 United States Code section 12731. Click here to view the Reserve Component Retirement System.

  • Provisions will 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 retirement planning/SBP briefing.

  • Upon notification, conduct the mandatory retirement planning briefing for severely wounded/injured Soldiers who may be medically retired no later than the start of Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) process.

  • Mandatory Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) and Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Counseling -Every active duty Soldier, AGR and those Reserve Soldiers who retire with 20 or more years of Active Federal Services (AFS) must receive counseling by a qualified RCSBP/SBP Counselor on available RCSBP and SBP options and the potential effects of participating or not participating in each of these options after the retirement application is submitted and at least 60 days before the official retirement date. Spouses are encouraged to attend. If election is less than the maximum Spouse coverage allowable by law, the Spouse must be provided SBP counseling and/or information on SBP elections and consequences of the elections. Reserve Component Soldiers must receive the mandatory RCSBP briefing and "gray area" benefits briefing between 18 years of service up to 60 days of receipt of NOE. Soldiers should be counseled that an RCSBP election of Option B or C remains in effect if the Soldier retires with a non-regular retirement. Soldiers who elected Option A must make an SBP election at non-regular retirement. If a Soldier retires with a Regular AFS retirement or medical retirement, the RCSBP election will be nullified and no payment will be required on RCSBP premiums.

  • Mandatory SBP Election -Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Soldiers must complete their SBP election no later than 60 days before their regular retirement of 20 or more years of AFS. Reserve Component Soldiers must complete their RCSBP election within 90 days of receipt of the Notification of Eligibility for Retired Pay at Age 60 (the 20-year letter or 15-year letter). Failure to complete the SBP elections within the above time frames will result in full SBP or RCSBP coverage for the dependent (s) at retirement for SBP or at the issuance of the Notification of Eligibility for Non-regular retirement for RCSBP. If the Soldier is married, the Spouse must provide notarized written 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 Soldier chooses option A (no RCSBP coverage choice) at the 20-year letter mark, 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 unless eligible for reduced age retirement) or the adjusted retirement age if eligible. If Soldier chooses Option B (deferred annuity until age 60) or Option C (immediate annuity) at the 20 year mark, those choices automatically become the SBP election when Soldier applies for non-regular pay at the age of eligibility, usually age 60, unless entitled to reduced age retirement under Title 10 United States Code section 12731. If Soldier retires with an Active Duty or regular retirement, any RCSBP election will be nullified and no RCSBP premiums will be due. Soldier can make a new SBP election at the time of their regular retirement using 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 retirement planning/SBP briefing. Such special briefings will be conducted no later than the start of the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) process.

  • Change of Mission Newsletter-The Army’s retirement planning newsletter, Change of Mission, is a quarterly, electronic newsletter sent to Soldiers in all three components with 17+ years of service. Change of Mission educates Soldiers about the retirement process, the decisions they and their families will make leading up to and immediately after their retirements, how their benefits will change when they retire, and why the Army wants them to be active Soldiers for Life in retirement.

Post-retirement

  • Retiree Council Programs -The HQDA Retirement Services office 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 Echoes and Installation Retiree Newsletters-The Army Retirement Services office publishes the Army Echoes newsletter three times per year to keep Retired Soldiers and Spouses in touch with the Army and inform them of their rights, benefits, and responsibilities. Army Echoes is sent electronically to all Retired Soldiers and SBP annuitants with an email address associated with their myPay accounts with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). Only those without an email address in myPay will receive the hardcopy edition of Army Echoes. Each major Army installation also publishes a retiree newsletter specific to their geographic area at least once per year.

Other

  • Effective 15 May 2009, all Soldiers, regardless of component, are entitled to receive the Army Retiring Soldier Commendation Program Package upon retirement as of. 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.

    • One DA Label 180 (exterior) and one DA label 180-1 (interior) "Soldier For Life" window stickers.

  • 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 websites in the "Additional Information" section below.

Additional Information

For more information, visit the website maintained by the Department of the Army Soldier for Life at:

https://soldierforlife.army.mil/retirement/home

Retirement Services Program Army Regulation 600-8-7:
https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/AR600-8-7_Web_Final.pdf

Army Retirement Service Officers:
https://soldierforlife.army.mil/retirement/rso

For National Archives Military Records Request information:
https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records

Document Review Date: 17 October 2018