How Much Will I Receive After I Retire From the Military?

Retirement Ceremony
United States Marines with 2nd Marine Logistics Group attend the retirement ceremony of Chief Warrant Officer 5 (CWO5) Timothy Andrew, on Camp Lejeune.

U.S. Marine Corps / Cpl. Michael Augusto

Some of the advantages of making the military a career are what comes after, like the medical and dental benefits, the GI Bill that helps pay for your or your children's education, and retirement pay.

To retire from military service, a person must stay in the military for 20 or more years. You could also be medically retired in certain situations, typically if you are unable to perform your duties as an active duty military member due to injuries or illness received while on active duty.

Retirement Pay

Active duty military members can retire after 20 years of active duty service. In exchange, they receive retirement pay for life. How much retirement pay a member receives is based on years of service and rank.

Every member's retirement pay differs to some degree based on length of service and rank. For example, the retirement of an E-8 with 20 years is roughly $22,000 a year for just waking up in the morning. However, if you spread that out for another 40 years of living, retirement pay has reached a $1 million retirement package.

For the same E-8 who has 30 years of total active duty service, the retirement pay almost doubles. 

Retirement Privileges

If you consider all the benefits for putting in 20 to 30 years of military service, most leave the service with a sense of pride in their military career. However, the tangible benefits are real. Veteran's Administration benefits, access to military base stores, hotels, flights around the world, and other services offered at free or reduced prices compared to civilian rates.

Veterans who live close to a military base also have access to some of the little things that can add significantly to retiree bottom lines. 

Base Access

Access to the military base grocery store, convenience stores, gas stations, clothing, and appliance stores can save thousands of dollars per year. High-priced appliances and other products are also not taxed. 

Medical and Dental Benefits

Retired members can opt into Tricare or the U.S. Family Health Plan depending upon location. These payments are minimal compared to civilian health care insurance costs for the retiree and family members. 

Physical and Recreational Activities

Rentals of boats, recreational vehicles, moving vans, and memberships to gym facilities and other outdoor activities and sports can save retired veterans significant amounts of money, too. 

The retirement pay, base privileges, VA loans, medical, dental, education, and other benefits do not come close to the sacrifices many of our retirees have made. For every year of deployment away from their families and homes, the aches and pains that come with the military profession, and the general sacrifices for serving for a career, they put a down payment on all the benefits they get in the years after their honored service.