Blended Retirement System (BRS) News – 8 June 2017

1. BRS Facebook Live Q&A TODAY –

Join Military OneSource for a live Facebook Q&A where experts from the Department of Defense and Manpower and Reserve Affairs will be on hand to answer your questions about the new Blended Retirement System that goes into effect January 1, 2018. The new Blended Retirement System blends the traditional legacy retirement pension with a defined contribution to service members’ Thrift Savings Plan. Post your questions ahead of time using the Discussion feature below, or ask your questions live TODAY, June 8 at 11:00 a.m. MST. It can be accessed by going to https://www.facebook.com/events/421172331589708/

2. DoD Launches Retirement System Comparison Calculator –

The Department of Defense officially launched the Blended Retirement System [ http://militarypay.defense.gov/BlendedRetirement/?source=GovD ](BRS) comparison calculator, providing BRS opt-in eligible service members their first opportunity for an individualized comparison of retirement systems. The comprehensive tool, in combination with the mandatory BRS Opt-In Course [ https://jkosupport.jten.mil/Atlas2/page/coi/externalCourseAccess.jsf?course_number=P-US1332&course_prefix=J3O&source=GovD&v=1490289736816 ], will assist the nearly 1.7 million opt-in eligible service members and their families make an informed decision on whether or not to elect the new retirement system.The BRS goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

We have designed an all-in-one calculator that is intuitive to use and takes into account the unique financial situations of our active duty, National Guard and Reserve service members, said Tony Kurta, performing the duties of undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. The calculator presents to service members the information needed to make an effective comparison. The calculator will provide service members the ability to compare estimated benefits between their current retirement plan and BRS prior to making this important decision.

Service members can adjust 12 inputs to reflect their personal situation and planning assumptions to see how changes to their career and savings will impact retirement benefits over the long-term. With a simple click, service members can change any of the inputs and re-run the calculations as many times as needed. The comparison calculator provides personalized estimates based on a service members individual information, career progression, pay and bonuses and retirement options. The all-in-one calculator was designed for the Total Force and can be used by active duty, National Guard and Reserve service members.

The official DoD comparison calculator is the only calculator endorsed by the DoD for supporting a service members Blended Retirement System opt-in decision.

Service members may use any calculator they feel can aid them in the decision making process, said Kurta. However, only the DoD BRS comparison calculator has been validated by the department as complying with all DoD and BRS policy and tested for accuracy.

The comparison calculator is intended to be used in conjunction with the mandatory BRS Opt-In Course, which launched Jan. 31. The opt-in course is focused on comparing the current legacy military retirement system (often referred to as the high-3 system) and the new Blended Retirement System, along with elements on financial management and retirement planning for service members. Service members are encouraged to take the Opt-In Course prior to utilizing the BRS comparison calculator. The decision whether to opt into the BRS is a completely personal one and the DoD takes no position on which system a service member should elect.

While the calculator is a valuable resource, said Kurta, it should not be the only resource used in making an opt-in decision.

Service members are encouraged to use all resources available to them in the decision making process, to include completion of the BRS Opt-In Course [ https://jkosupport.jten.mil/html/COI.xhtml?course_number=P-US1332&course_prefix=J3O&source=GovD ], utilizing the BRS Comparison Calculator [ http://militarypay.defense.gov/calculators/brs/?source=GovD ], accessing the online BRS resource materials [ http://militarypay.defense.gov/blendedretirement?source=GovD ]and scheduling time with a personal financial counselor or manager. Service members can get free, personal support from an accredited personal financial counselor or manager through their installations Military and Family Support Center. Search online athttp://militaryinstallations.dod.mil/ [ http://militaryinstallations.dod.mil/?source=GovD ] or http://www.jointservicessupport.org/spn [ http://www.jointservicessupport.org/spn?source=GovD ].

Give and Get Back – Air Force Assistance Fund Campaign

Army & Air Force Exchange Service is partnering with the Air Force Assistance Fund for an exciting promotion. Between June 14 and June 18, make a $5 donation to AFAF at the register of the Base Exchange and receive a coupon for $5 off a future purchase. Give back to your fellow Airmen while also getting a great deal.

The Society is one of four affiliate charities benefiting from the AFAF campaign, so we hope you’ll plan to get out and shop at your Exchange starting on June 14!

Ellsworth AFB Tax Center Set to Open February 9th

The Ellsworth Air Force Base Tax Center will be opening Feb. 9. The Tax Center is located inside the Rushmore Center, suite 1300 and will be open Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. by appointment only. Please remember to bring all items listed on the attached flyer. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (605) 385-8298.

2017ellsworthtax-center

Beware of “Can you hear me?” phone scam

Source: Article by Kathy Kristof of CBS News (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/beware-new-can-you-hear-me-scam/); accessed 31 January 2017.

The public are being warned about this latest phone scam, the “can you hear me” con. It is actually a variation on earlier scams aimed at getting the victim to say the word “yes” in a phone conversation. That affirmative response is recorded by the fraudster and used to authorize unwanted charges on a phone or utility bill or a stolen credit card. Once they have the recorded “yes,” they say that you have agreed to something.

So you may be asking how you can be charged if you don’t provide a payment method? The fraudster already has your phone number, and many phone providers pass through third-party charges. Additionally, the fraudster may already have some of your personal information such as a credit card number or utility bill (possibly as the result of a data breach). When you dispute the charge, they can say that they have your consent on a recorded call.

What can you do? Kathy’s article (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/beware-new-can-you-hear-me-scam/) suggests the following:

If you suspect you have already been victimized, check your credit card, phone and cable statements carefully for any unfamiliar charges. Call the billing company — whether your credit card company or your phone provider — and dispute anything that you didn’t authorize on purpose. If they say you have been recorded approving the charge and you have no recollection of that, ask for proof.

If you need help disputing an unauthorized credit card charge, contact the Federal Trade Commission. If the charge hit your phone bill, the Federal Communications Commission regulates phone bill “cramming.”

If you have not yet been victimized, the best way to avoid telemarketing calls from con artists is to sign up for a free blocking service or simply let calls from unfamiliar numbers go to your answering machine. Scammers rarely leave a message.

If you do answer a call from an unfamiliar number, be skeptical of strangers asking questions that would normally elicit a “yes” response. The question doesn’t have to be “can you hear me?” It could be “are you the lady of the house?”; “do you pay the household telephone bills?”; “are you the homeowner?”; or any number of similar yes/no questions. A reasonable response to any of these questions is: “Who are you, and why do you want to know?”

If the caller maintains they are with a government agency — Social Security, the IRS, the Department of Motor Vehicles or the court system — hang up immediately. Government officials communicate by mail, not phone (unless you initiate the call). Many con artists use the aegis of authority to convince you to keep talking. The longer you talk, the more likely you are to say something that will allow them to make you a victim.