Proposed changes to the military retirement system have made many men and women in uniform rethink their government benefits.

A recent survey from the First Command Financial Behaviors Index revealed that one-quarter of middle class military families, those who make at least $50,000 a year and are not retired, are rethinking their government-offered retirement benefits in light of a proposal from the Defense Business Board to overhaul the Pentagon's traditional retirement system. The potential change would phase out the traditional vesting system that provides lifetime income to retirees after 20 years of service.

They also are thinking more about the military's Survivor Benefit Plan, which is designed to protect spouses and children by ensuring that a portion of their retired pay continues after their death, providing guaranteed lifetime income. Once a military person makes the decision to take advantage of the Survivor Benefit Plan, it is irrevocable. Spouses must agree to any protection that is less than 100 percent. If the maximum election is made, the cost of spouse-only coverage is 6.5 percent of gross military retired pay.

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