The DFAS eRAS (and 2012 TSP limits)


Let me interrupt today’s post with late-breaking news from the Thrift Savings Plan website:

Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 2012 contribution limits — You can contribute up to $17,000 in tax-deferred money to the TSP in 2012. If you are a member of the uniformed services, you can contribute a total of $50,000 in tax-deferred and tax-exempt money. If you will be age 50 or over in 2012, you can also contribute up to $5,500 in additional “catch-up” contributions, as long as your regular contributions for the year are expected to reach the $17,000 limit. (The catch-up contribution limit has not changed from 2011.)

The nitty-gritty details (including tax-exempt contributions from a combat zone) are on the TSP’s “Contribution Limits” page.

Thanks– now back to the regularly-scheduled post:

Servicemembers can spend a considerable amount of active-duty time tracking down Leave and Earnings Statements for corrections and changes. If you’re having a bad week then you might be logged into your MyPay account every day.

After a few months of retirement, though, that stops. Unless they’re updating their personal data, retirees hardly ever log on to MyPay. DFAS uploads an IRS 1099-R form every year for tax returns, and they also post next year’s copy of the latest Retiree Account Statement. With a little thoughtful timing, both can be downloaded during the same session in mid-December. I bet the DFAS Help Desk spends a tremendous amount of time helping retirees remember recover their passwords for their annual login.

However that’s all changed this week: by popular request, DFAS is now posting monthly “eRAS” statements to all retiree MyPay accounts.

I was baffled at the announcement. I only call the Help Desk log on once a year to download my 1099-R and my RAS, so why would anyone need monthly updates? I don’t think my spouse has needed to check MyPay since retiring from the Reserves nearly three years ago.

Other retirees set me straight. Some of them are updating their allotments or their withholding or their SBP, and they want to monitor DFAS’ progress. Others have changes to their VA benefits, or Congress withholds less income tax from their pension check– and they want to know the amount. Some retirees have used their RAS to document their pension for a mortgage application, and have been told by the lender that a three-month-old RAS is too old to “prove” that the military is still paying their pension.  Ouch.

You don’t have to remember to check your eRAS– if you supply an e-mail address then MyPay will e-mail you when that month’s statement has been posted. If you’re a military retiree, your 1 Nov eRAS is waiting for you now.

Can’t remember how to log in to MyPay? Kate Kashman has you covered.  The instructions are also on the DFAS retiree MyPay website  in the right-hand column.

So I guess we can say that DFAS and MyPay have made it a lot easier to check your… RAS, and you actually can find it with both hands… on your keyboard.

Let me know if you’ve had any issues or problems with MyPay!

Related articles:
Pension pitfalls

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WHAT I DO: I help you reach financial independence. For free. I retired in 2002 after 20 years in the Navy's submarine force. I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" to share the stories of over 50 other financially independent servicemembers, veterans, and families. All of my writing revenue is donated to military-friendly charities.

4 Comments
  1. Doug,

    Thanks for setting us straight on eRAS as I was also puzzled by the switch to monthly statements.

    Jay.

    • I bet DFAS was already doing a similar report internally, and just had to flip a few switches to make it available to everyone. A cheap victory to show the GAO and Congress that they’re taking care of their customers.

      Either that or they’ll start selling eRAS banner ads for long-term care insurance and TSP annuities!

      (For DFAS staff and the “occasional” readers of this blog: that last comment was a joke. I hope.)

  2. I really enjoy reading your posts. I sent your one about moving to Hawaii to my 54 yo sister in LA who is burned out from corporate world and wants to get out of LA. She is a civilian, but she loved the article because she constantly thinks about moving to Hawaii. She visits it 3 times a year and owns a timeshare there. I too am a retired LCDR, passed over several times. The Navy found me fit to send me for my master’s but then never promoted me. We are visiting Hawaii next year and am wondering if any bases have any nice brunches or meals. Sometimes O clubs have nice stuff. Does the Hale Koa have anything special? I got your book and really like it.

    • Thanks! Another good site for learning about Hawaii is HawaiiThreads.com.

      As for the military bases, I think you’ll enjoy the Hale Koa’s restaurants as well as Pearl Harbor’s “Schooners” (on the water near the USS ARIZONA Memorial) and Hickam’s “Sea Breeze” (on the beach).

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