Guide to Survivor Benefits
This guide provides answers to many questions about the Survivor Benefit Plan/ Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP/RCSBP), and the Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan (RSFPP), other annuity programs, and Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) payments to beneficiaries. If an annuitant has specific questions concerning the annuity, please write to the address listed below, or call our toll-free number: 1-800-321-1080. Overseas customers may call commercial (216) 522-5955. Our toll-free fax number is 1-800-982-8459. To expedite a prompt response, please include the annuitant’s name and Social Security Number (SSN) as well as the member's name and SSN on all correspondence
Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Automatic Coverage and Options
There appears to be some confusion regarding the application of the automatic coverage provision under the SBP and the SBP options available to the military retiree after retirement. The information below serves as guidance on these issues.
Automatic Coverage & Options Available After Retirement
Member with Beneficiaries at Time of Retirement: Automatic SBP coverage applies only at retirement. The automatic coverage provision does not apply to any situation which may occur afterthe member’s retirement date. Automatic coverage does apply to any member who, on the date of retirement, 1) did not make a valid SBP election, that is, an election for full coverage, less than full coverage, or declined coverage; and, 2) has a qualified spouse and/or child beneficiary.
Member with No Beneficiaries at Time of Retirement: A member who has no eligible beneficiaries at retirement is still required to complete the SBP election which is part of the form DD2656. There is a block on the form to indicate the member has no eligible dependents. Automatic coverage does not apply in this case since the member has no eligible beneficiaries. However, if such member later acquires a spouse and/or child he may elect SBP coverage. The member would have one year from the date of acquisition to make an election to cover the newly acquired beneficiary. An election may be submitted by letter provided the intent to elect is clear and all information required for an election is provided. A letter which only notifies us that the member has married does not constitute an election of SBP.
Again, there is no automatic coverage for any spouse and/or children newly acquired after retirement. In order to provide SBP coverage in this situation, the member must submit a valid positive written election which is received within the election period prescribed by law.
Member Who Had SBP Coverage for Spouse and/or Child at Retirement: A member fitting this situation who later loses a beneficiary will have SBP coverage suspended during the period in which there is no eligible beneficiary. Should the member subsequently acquire a new beneficiary in the same class as was originally provided at retirement, the original coverage is reinstated for the newly acquired beneficiary. Reinstatement of coverage is not the same as automatic coverage. The reinstatement will happen when that person qualifies as an eligible beneficiary. For a new spouse, it would be on the first anniversary date, or sooner, if a child is born of the marriage. For a new child, it would be the date of birth (if a natural child) or the date of acquisition (if other than a natural child).
It should be noted that upon acquisition of a new spouse the member does have the option to either increase the level of coverage (base amount), or to terminate coverage. Such a request must be made by the member before the first anniversary date of the marriage.
RETIREES KEEP YOUR INFORMATION CURRENT
Keep Retired Pay Records Current
It is very important to review your retired pay account information and ensure that it is current; things such as correct mailing address, marital status and designated beneficiaries, to name a few.
Failure to update retired pay records when the retiree married, divorced, remarried, became widowed, or acquired a child could result in Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) benefits being denied or life insurance paid to an unintended recipient.
In the case of divorce with SBP coverage involved, there is a one year notification period to DFAS, to include a copy of the court decree, for benefits to stay in force for a former spouse.
Make sure your spouse or designated beneficiaries know what benefits to expect or not and are prepared by maintaining a file of information that will be needed upon your death.
Some account information can be updated yourself through myPay. Other changes and notifications should be mailed or faxed to:
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Retirement Pay
P.O. Box 7130
London, KY 40742-7130
Fax: (800) 469-6559
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Annuitant Pay
P.O. Box 7131
London, KY 40742-7131
Fax: (800) 982- 8459
Please include your Social Security number or that of deceased member and sign the request.