Paycheck Chronicles

Military Retirement Pay Chart

I'm sorry that the title of this post is misleading - it is important that the search engines be able to find this article and that's the best way to make it happen.  This post is about why there is not a military retirement pay chart, and what you can do about it.

I get a LOT of email from people asking me to link to the military retirement pay chart.  There is no chart, because military retirement pay is calculated individually based upon a service member's

  • date of initial entry into the military,
  • choice of retirement plan (if they had a choice),
  • date of retirement,
  • exact years and months of service (which can vary a lot, because not everyone serves continuously, and
  • rank at retirement.
Once you've figured out what their initial retirement pay was, using all those factors, then you have to do the math for the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).  These calculations will bring you to the retiree's current military retirement pay amount.  This is just the gross amount, or the amount before any  adjustments or deductions.

Common adjustments and changes include federal and state income taxes, VA benefit offsets, other compensation, Survivor Benefit Plan premiums, and any allotments that you've set up.  Some retirees may also have payments made directly to former spouses from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS.)

As a result, even calculating gross retirement pay does not help at all in figuring out your net pay, or take-home pay.

Retiree Account Statement

Thankfully, there is a quick and easy way to see all your retirement pay, adjustments and deductions:  the Retiree Account Statement (RAS).  The RAS is a monthly statement of all retirement pay activity.  It is available online via the MyPay service of DFAS, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at no cost to you.  MyPay access also allows you to keep your mailing address updated, change your income tax withholding, and receive your 1099R tax statements early.

It takes a little effort to set up a MyPay account, because initial, temporary passwords have to be mailed to the address on record with DFAS.  If your address is old, you have to get it changed through DFAS before you can have your password mailed to you.  However, this small expenditure of effort will make your future financial transactions so much easier!

I encourage everyone who receives payments from DFAS, including active duty, retirees, and annuitants, to set up a MyPay account.  There is no reason to wait for documents, or spend hours on hold on the telephone.  MyPay gives instant access whenever you need it.  I know this sounds like an advertisement for MyPay, but I truly love the ease and convenience that the account provides.

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