Active-duty, reserve and National Guard soldiers in the United States Army are eligible for retirement after only 20 years of service. Retired soldiers receive a pin to wear and a uniform shoulder patch to recognize them for their service. In addition, soldiers get retirement compensation and access to several other benefits for themselves and their families.
Soldiers receive between 40 and 100 percent of their base pay during retirement, and receive cost-of-living increases each year. This percentage is based upon the soldier's rank and years of service. Retirement pay for reserve members is based on their unit training pay. Soldiers are also eligible to contribute to the federal Thrift Savings Plan. Income from that plan is based upon the amount the soldier contributed and how much his investments grew.
Retired soldiers are eligible for TRICARE health plans. Retirees must pay a portion of their health coverage that TRICARE does not cover. As of 2007, retirees are responsible for up to $3,000 of their medical costs. Retirees enrolled in Medicare Part A and B may also enroll in TRICARE for Life, which will pay costs after Medicare and other health insurance companies have paid for expenses. TRICARE also offers a retiree dental plan and a pharmacy plan for prescription medications.
Retired active-duty soldiers who are 60 years old or older and served at least half of their career as enlisted, warrant or limited-duty officer are eligible to live in the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. Retirees pay a fee of 35 to 60 percent of their income depending on the amount of assistance they need.
Retirees are eligible for the GI home loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. If the retiree has a service-related condition, injury or disability, she may be eligible for free medical care, rehabilitation and compensation from the VA.
Retired soldiers also qualify for Social Security benefits when they reach at least 62 years of age. You will not receive full Social Security benefits unless you wait to claim them until you are 67 years of age. Income from Social Security is based on the amount earned during your career.
When the retiree dies, the family may choose burial in a national cemetery or in a private cemetery. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides the family with a gravestone or marker and an American flag for the casket and full military honors upon request. Surviving family members may receive financial assistance if the retiree maintained Survivor Benefit Plan coverage after retirement.