If you are a past or present military serviceperson in Florida, you have likely wondered about your retirement options. Family and friends may have cautioned you to either leave the military as soon as possible to save for retirement in other fields or remain for 20 years to earn military benefits. This advice is not wrong, but it may not be current.

It goes without saying that military men and women make tremendous sacrifices to serve the country. However, compensation provided to military personnel in thanks has not always reflected this sacrifice. One area in which compensation packages were lacking was retirement. Military members typically had to remain with the military for at least 20 years before being entitled to retirement benefits. According to Forbes, only 19% of military personnel were able to qualify for this by remaining on duty.

Recently, a new Blended Retirement System was introduced to fill the gap. This plan provides a retirement contribution match of up to 5% of base pay from the government. While military members must typically still remain on duty for two decades to earn the full benefits, the Thrift Savings Plan offers some portability. There is also the opportunity to receive Continuation Pay at 12 years of service, for serving an additional four years.

While not ideal, these new retirement benefits are a far cry better than what the military once offered. A whopping 85% of military personnel will now qualify for retirement benefits upon severing ties. So, what is the catch? If you joined the military on or after January 1, 2018, you are automatically enrolled in this new system. Those who had served in the military for less than 12 years would have been able to opt into the system for a limited time only, which passed on December 31, 2018. Military personnel who had served for 12 or more years would not qualify.

This article provides information on military or veterans’ retirement benefits and should not be used as legal advice.