Military service members aren’t all that impressed with the retirement changes Congress has devised.
According to the most recent Financial Behaviors Index from First Command Financial Services Inc., 70 percent of middle-class military families (commissioned officers and senior noncommissioned officers—NCOs) in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) who say they are likely to serve to full retirement want to be grandfathered into the current retirement system.
The planned restructuring of the military’s existing 20-year retirement system by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission as a blended program that includes a reduced pension in exchange for a lump sum bonus and a new 401(k)-type plan isn’t exactly winning minds and hearts.
While many career military service members are fine with the idea of changing the system so that noncareer military will be eligible for some kind of retirement savings—at present, those who don’t put in 20 years don’t get any government-sponsored retirement savings—they don’t want their own pensions to disappear.
They’re pretty well informed on the subject, too; while just 12 percent of the general population are up on what’s planned for military members’ retirement, 69 percent of military households are at least somewhat familiar with what’s going on.
In addition, 65 percent are in favor, because it will mean their noncareer brethren will be eligible for some benefits.
But that doesn’t mean that they want to switch into something as unpredictable as a defined contribution plan.
“Our career service members are understandably wary of giving up their traditional pension in favor of matching funds and other elements of defined contribution plans,” Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, said in a statement.
Spiker added, “Defined contribution plans have not worked for middle-class Americans in building a suitable income for retirement. There is no reason to believe they will work for our middle-class military force either.”