Military personnel and retireeshave some deadlines coming soon for retirement plan selection andTricare benefits. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Eligible servicemembers only have till December 31, 2018, todecide whether to choose the legacy retirement plan offered by thearmed forces or to go with the new blended plan.

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And retirees need to sign up for dental and vision benefits orswitch health benefit plans by December 10.

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Related: Warning on new military retirement plan: Clickcarefully

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Stars and Stripes reports that while servicemembers who joinedthe military on or after January 1, 2018, have been automaticallyenrolled in the new retirement plan—called the Uniformed Services Blended RetirementSystem—those who joined on or before December 31, 2017, aregrandfathered into the legacy retirement system, which requiresthem to serve for 20 years before they are eligible forbenefits.

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The blended system, or BRS, became available January 1, andcombines automatic and matching contributions to a servicemember'sThrift Savings Plan, continuation pay and monthly pay uponretirement, according to the Defense Department.

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The legacy system offers a higher pension benefit, but only 19percent of active duty and 14 percent of Reserve troops stay in forat least 20 years to qualify for the legacy retirement benefit.

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The BRS, on the other hand, means that 85 percent ofservicemembers will get retirement benefits after they serve atleast two years.

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The new plan has not proved too popular up tillnow, with just 1 out of 6 servicemembers opting in as of the end ofSeptember.

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Military retirees, too, have choices ahead, and a much shorterdeadline.

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According to the Defense Health Agency, the Tricare retiree dental program ends on December31 and those who are enrolled in or eligible for benefits need tocheck their eligibility for the Federal Employees Dental and VisionInsurance Program (FEDVIP) for 2019—and sign up by December 10.

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In addition, retiree Prime and Select enrollees must switchbenefit plans, if they choose to do so, by December 10.

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READ MORE:

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Military spouses need to be part of retirement plandecision

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10 best companies for veterans

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5 best and worst places for militaryretirees

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.