If you join the military, you’ll have to start thinking about what you will do once you reach military retirement. Luckily, most people agree that the military retirement system is one of the best plans available including a pension and military benefits that start from the day you retire from the military, which for some people may be as young as the age of 37 or so. Most company-based or retirement savings plans require that you are of a certain age before you can start collecting your benefits.
Military Retirement Separation Requirements
There are several things you will need to do before making your separation from the US Military, and some need to be done according to a time schedule. Here is what you need to know and plan for as you approach your retirement date:
Pre-Separation Counseling at least 90 days before separation – during this counseling session, you will learn about relocation assistance, medical and life insurance, VA benefits, the Transition Assistance Program and other benefits and entitlements. You must complete pre-separation counseling at least 90 days before you separate from the military, but you can start as many as 24 months prior to your retirement date.
Medical and Dental exams 90 days before separation – make an appointment for final dental and medical exams at your installation’s clinic or hospital 90 days before your retirement date. These are mandatory exams.
Determine Whether a TAP Employment Workshop is mandatory – for some branches of the military, the Transition Assistance program (TAP) may be mandatory. This is a workshop that provides job searching strategies, interview skills, resume writing skills, and salary negotiation information to help you with civilian jobs after you leave the military.
Schedule Move with Transportation Management Office – military retirees have up to one year after active duty ends to schedule their final move and use the assistance of the Transportation Management Office (TMO) for moving and/or storing your household goods.
Can You Live on Military Retirement?
Many retirees wonder if they will be able to live off their retirement or if they will have to get another job after the military to make ends meet. If you are in the military for 20 years, you can retire with about 50% of your military base pay and full medical benefits along with some other benefits that you keep for the rest of your life. For people who put 40 years in the military, you can retire with 100% of your base pay.
While your military retirement benefits are worth millions over the course of your lifetime, it may be difficult to live off your retirement indefinitely if you have a mortgage, credit card debt, and/or children in college. One of the best things you can do is focus on paying off debts while you are still in the military if your goal is to live off military retirement.
For the majority of military retirees however, it seems working for a few more years after retirement; even if only part time or through turning a hobby into a small business; is the ideal solution for making ends meet. Receiving your military retirement will be great passive income for you, though, money you will earn without directly trading your hours for pay.
Challenges Faced By Military Retirees
Separating from the military isn’t without challenges and many retirees face unexpected and unwanted emotional side effects. Here are some common challenges people face so you might prepare for them and be better able to overcome them:
Job searching – if you determine you need another job after you retire from the military, the process of looking for a job can be extremely stressful on you and your family. Particularly during a time when unemployment rates are high and it is more difficult to obtain quality employment. Remember to work with the Transition Assistance Office for assistance.
Learning to work with civilians – many military retirees report having a hard time adjusting to working in a civilian environment after working with military service members due to a lack of companionship or unity in the civilian world compared to the military. Join a military organization to keep in touch and work hard to stay in touch with your friends from your military years. Some military organizations you may join for networking and transitioning include:
If you want to start your career to set yourself up with the military retirement system, click here for free information about joining the military.