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

Retirement Ceremony
••• Photo courtesy U.S. Marine Corps; photo by: Cpl. Michael Augusto

There are many questions concerning becoming a career military person.  Many of the benefits to making the military a career are the medical and dental benefits, the GI Bill to help pay for education of you or your children, as well as retirement pay.

To retire from the military service, a person must stay in the military for 20 or more years. There are other issues that can give you retired status such as serious illness or injuries. You could 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 active duty.

One of the most common questions asked of the military experts at The Balance is the following: 

Question: How much will I receive after I retire from the military?

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

The military makes it easy to calculate ballpark breakdown of retirement pay using the online calculator found at the official Military Pay website.  Every member's retirement pay will differ to some degree due to their length of service and rank, however if you place in the calculator the retirement of an E-8 with twenty years, you will see that the retirement pay will be roughly $22,000 a year for just waking up in the morning. However, if you spread that out for another 40 years of living, that military retirement pay has reached a million dollar retirement package.

For the same E-8 who has thirty years of total active duty service, you will see that the retirement pay almost doubles monthly as well as is now a two million dollar retirement package after forty years. These are also complete with Veteran's Administration benefits, access to military base stores, hotels, flights around the world, and other services offered at free to highly reduced prices compared to life as a civilian with no military retirement pay. 

Privileges Of Military Service Retirement

If you consider all the benefits for putting in 20-30 years of military service, most leave the service with a sense of pride of their military career. However, the tangible benefits are real. As stated above the retirement pay package is significant and can easily supplement a second career and increase a veterans standard of living. But if the veteran lives close to a military base, he/she will have access to some of the little things that add significantly to a retirees bottom line by saving thousands of dollars each year compared to a non-retired veteran or civilian.


On 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 such as stoves, refrigerators, washing machines and other products are also not taxed saving hundreds or thousands of dollars as well. 

Medical / Dental Benefits - Free medical benefits for retirees is no longer a program.  Retired members can opt into Tricare or the US Family Health Plan depending upon location of the retiree and his/her family. These payments are minimal compared to current health care insurance costs savings thousands of dollars each year for the retiree and the family members. 

Physical and Recreational Activities - Rentals of boats, recreational vehicles, moving vans, and memberships to gym facilities and other outdoor activities and sports save retired veterans thousands of dollars each year too. 

Besides being forever in our Nation's debt for a retired veterans continued service to our country, 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 family 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 and fully deserve everything to get in the years after their honored service.

Thank a Veteran for their service. 

For details about the Military Retirement System, see the article, Understanding Military Retirement Pay.