Financial stability and benefits can be big draws for entering and remaining in the military. The Selective Re-enlistment Bonus is one incentive that branches of the U.S. military use in order to encourage people to continue serving. This bonus can be up to $100,000 as of 2020 and can be quite financially attractive if you are looking to increase the financial health of your family.
It would make life easier if you could use an SRB calculator to plan for your finances and first SRB payment. However, SRB varies greatly based on the branch of the military and many other factors, so this is impractical.
To make your own SRB calculation, find out if your position and skills have been classified as critical by the U.S. Department of Defense or Homeland Security and ensure you have completed at least 17 months of active service. This will determine your eligibility, and eligible positions can change every quarter. Assuming you are eligible for SRB, you will also need to know your zone based on years of service:
- Zone A: 21 months to six years of active service
- Zone B: Six to 10 years of active service
- Zone C: 10 to 14 years of service
For example, say that the U.S. Department of Defense has classified chaplains in Zone B as eligible for SRB. Begin your calculation by multiplying the monthly chaplain salary by the number of years for which he is re-enlisting, like this:
- Monthly salary: $4,081
- Re-enlistment term: 6 years
- Calculation: $4,081 x 6 years = $24,486
Next, multiply this amount by the multiplier published by the branch of the military in which you are re-enlisting. In 2020, the multiplier for religious-service professionals is two, so you would do the following calculation:
- $24,486 x 2 = $48,972
This final calculation is the chaplain's total SRB, but this amount is not given in one lump sum. Only bonuses under $20,000 are awarded as a lump sum.
For an SRB that is over $20,000, half of the bonus is given up front, and the rest of the bonus is given in installments on the re-enlistment anniversary date. In the case of an Air Force chaplain with a $48,972 bonus, this means that the first payment is $24,486. The remaining $24,486 would be divided into six equal installments of $4,081.
In another example, say someone in Zone A with special reconnaissance skills decides to re-enlist for a term of three years. Multiply her monthly salary by the length of re-enlistment, like this:
- $5,778 x 3 = $17,334
Then, take the $17,334 and multiply it by 7, which is the multiplier in 2020 for someone with special reconnaissance skills in Zone A.
- $17,334 x 7 = $121, 338
Since the SRB in this case is more than the $100,000 SRB cap, this person's bonus will actually be $100,000. She will receive $50,000 as her first SRB payment and then $16,667 for the next three years.
Selective Re-Enlistment Bonuses are taxable income. Expect any SRB you earn to be taxed at the 25% to 28% rate unless you sign the re-enlistment papers from a combat zone where income is not taxable.
In addition, if you leave the military before completing the term to which you have agreed, you will likely need to repay any SRB money you have received. There are rare exceptions to this, like in the instance of injury or illness that was no fault of your own. Your human resources department can help you figure out the fine details of your particular circumstance to help you avoid any unexpected charges.