Retirement Services Program
Benefit Fact Sheet
The Headquarters, Department of the Army (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, 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 (RDs) and Mission Support Commands (MSCs) worldwide, they: 1) provide counseling to these groups on their rights, benefits and entitlements, 2) provide Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) counseling and assist with maintaining SBP elections, 3) provide Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) counseling and assist with maintaining RCSBP elections and 4) keep the retiree population informed of law and benefit changes.
Retirement planning services of local RSOs are available to active duty, Army National Guard (ARNG), and United States Army Reserve (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 Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) and Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Counseling – All Reserve Component (RC) soldiers who have received their Notification of Eligibility (NOE) for Retired Pay at Age 60 (the 15- or 20-year letter) should receive the mandatory RCSBP briefing and "gray area" benefits briefing within 60 days of receipt of the NOE.
- Mandatory RCSBP Election - RC soldiers must complete their RCSBP election on a DD Form 2656-5 within 90 days of receipt of the NOE. If an RCSBP election is not made within 90 days of 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 provide notarized written concurrence with the election when the soldier elects anything other than full Spouse RCSBP coverage, Option C. Without the spouse's concurrence within 90 days of the NOE, the soldier will receive the maximum level of coverage allowable under the law for Spouse RCSBP coverage. If the soldier chooses Option A (no RCSBP coverage choice), then soldier can make an SBP election when they apply for non-regular retired pay at the age of eligibility (usually age 60, unless eligible for reduced age retirement under T10 USC 12731), however no RCSBP 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 the soldier applies for non-regular retired pay at the age of eligibility. If soldier retires with an active duty/regular retirement, or medical retirement, any RCSBP election will not affect the SBP election and no RCSBP premiums will be due. soldier can make a new SBP election at the time of their regular retirement using a DD Form 2656. For more information, refer to the SBP page at https://soldierforlife.army.mil/Retirement/survivor-benefit-plan.
- 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.
- Mandatory Retirement Planning Seminar – All reserve component (RC) soldiers who have received their NOE will receive a mandatory RCSBP and "gray area" benefits briefing within 6 months of transitioning off active drilling status. All RC soldiers must attend a retirement planning seminar during their 18th or 19th qualifying year of service and if still in service will attend a retirement planning seminar between ages 58 and 59.
- For RC soldiers who will begin receiving retirement pay before age 60 under the provisions of Title 10 United States Code section 12731 (Reduced Age Retirement Eligibility); the retirement planning seminar will be conducted prior to the adjusted retirement date. 7
- 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 seminar/SBP briefing. Such special briefings should be conducted no later than the start of the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) process.
- Retiree Council Programs- The HQDA Retirement Services office administers the Chief of Staff, Army (CSA) Retired Soldier 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. The Army’s Retired soldier Council Program consists of five elements:
- The CSA Retired Soldier Council established by the CSA and chartered by HQDA.
- Installation Retiree Councils established and chartered by individual installation or garrison commanders.
- Army Service Component Commands (ASCC) Retiree Councils established and chartered by ASCC commanders.
- State Retiree Councils established and chartered by The Adjutants General (TAG) of the States and Territories.
- RD or MSC Retiree Councils established and chartered by RD or MSC commanders.
- 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 currently serving 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 dates are published in Army Echoes and in local installation newsletters sent to the retiree community in their areas of operation.
- Army Echoes - The Army Retirement Services office publishes the Army Echoes newsletter four times per year to keep Retired soldiers and their spouses in touch with the Army and informed of their rights, benefits, and responsibilities. Army Echoes is sent electronically to all Retired soldiers and SBP annuitants to the 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.
- As of 15 May 2009, all soldiers, regardless of component, are entitled to receive the Army Retiring soldier Commendation Program (ARSCP) Package upon retirement. The package includes the following:
- A personalized 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
- S. Flag
- 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 the legislation regarding Former Spouse SBP and division of retired pay.
- For more information about the services provided by the Army Retirement Services Program, please see the websites in the "Additional Information" section below.
For more information, visit the website 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: