Retiree Pay: Not a Simple Number

If you are looking toward retirement and have checked out the web-based retirement compensation calculator you've probably already started making plans in your head. That amount could cover: car payment? House? Boat?

Slow your roll. That amount on those lovely charts, is not what you will receive. Ever. Before you can create a smart retirement budget, you need to estimate your actual retirement pay.

First, retirement pay is taxed. Slice a bit off the top.

Second, retirement pay stops when a military retiree dies. If you want your spouse to continue to receive a monthly payment, you have to pay insurance on your retirement check. Known as the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), this will allow your spouse to continue to receive a payment, however, it will not be equal to the retiree pay the service member was receiving.

Full coverage under the SBP is 55 percent of the retirement pay. The monthly premium will be set based on how much a spouse wants to receive after the service members passing. Coverage can be selected for both a spouse and children. The cost for full coverage of spouse only is 6.5 percent of gross military retired pay. Click here for specifics on premiums for children (a smaller percentage of coverage)

Finally, the long lines and lack of parking at military medical facilities will seem like a small inconvenience when you retire and begin paying an annual fee for medical coverage. Retirees pay an annual enrollment fee of $460 for a family or $230 for an individual to continue using the military's healthcare system, Tricare. This is a massive fee for those of us used to paying zilch, but is really small potatoes when compared to the civilian sector.

Retirees who are not using Tricare Prime, meaning they are not using military docs, must also meet an annual deductible of $150 for an individual or $300 for a family. Outpatient emergency care and inpatient care will have co-pays though the amount will depend on whether individuals are enrolled in Tricare Prime, Extra or Standard. Again, the rates are staggeringly lower than civilian health insurance plans, but are a shock no less for people who have never paid for health insurance in 20 plus years.

For specific rates on each plan, please visit:

That retirement vacation home may be in your reach. But before you shop, crunch the numbers and make sure you know how much you really have to spend.

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