Skip to main content

Military pensions

If you retire from a career in the military, you may be eligible for a pension. The plan and benefits you will receive depend on your situation.

Learn about the factors that affect your retirement benefits.

Use a retirement calculator to estimate your military retirement pay.

Pension plans for active duty military

There are two pension plans for active duty service members. Both plans require 20 or more years of service.

Legacy or High 36 Retirement System - This plan is based on an average of your highest 36 months of basic pay. The government does not match your contributions to the Thrift Savings plan.

Blended Retirement System (BRS) - The government matches your contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan up to 4%. You will also receive a pension based on an average of your highest 36 months of basic pay.

Determine your retirement plan

Your retirement benefit plan depends on when you joined the service.

  • Before January 1, 2006 - You are in the legacy/high 36 retirement system.
  • Between Jan 1, 2006, and December 31, 2017 - You had a choice of keeping the legacy/high 36 or choosing the BRS.
  • After December 31, 2017 - You are in the BRS.

Retirement plans for reserve service members

Retiring reservists typically begin receiving their retirement benefits at age 60. This age may be reduced, based on the time spent on active duty.

Payments will not begin automatically. Request your retirement benefits from the department where you last served. Learn more about how reserve retirement benefits work.

Retirement plans for service members with disabilities

A service member who is at least 30% disabled may be eligible to get retirement benefits.

Find out how military disability retirement (Chapter 61 retirement) works.

Pension programs for veterans and survivors with a low income

Eligibility for a Veterans Pension

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a pension program for veterans who did not retire from the service. This program is for veterans who:

  • Served during a war
  • Didn't have a dishonorable discharge
  • Earn an income below a threshold

See the VA’s eligibility rules for the Veterans Pension program.

How to apply for a Veterans Pension

Get the details of how to apply for a Veterans Pension online, by mail, or at a VA regional office.

Get a VA Survivors Pension

The VA also has a pension for the survivor of a veteran who served during a war. Learn about the eligibility rules and how to apply for a VA Survivors Pension.

Discover other retirement benefits

Use USAGov's benefit finder tool to find other retirement benefits that may help with living expenses, health care and medications, and more.

LAST UPDATED: July 10, 2024


Have a question?

Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They will get you the answer or let you know where to find it.