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Survivor Benefit Plan

Benefit overview

Military retired pay stops upon the death of the retiree. The Survivor Benefit Plan allows a retiree to ensure, after death, a continuous lifetime annuity for their dependents. The annuity, based on a percentage of retired pay, pays eligible survivors an inflation-adjusted monthly income.

How this benefit helps

The SBP helps beneficiaries by ensuring that they continue to receive a monthly financial payment, similar to a veteran’s retirement pay after they die.

A military retiree pays premiums for SBP coverage upon retiring. Premiums are paid from gross retired pay, so they don’t count as income. This means less tax and less out-of-pocket costs for SBP. The premiums are partially funded by the government and the costs of operating the program are absorbed by the government, so the average premiums are well below the cost for a conventional insurance policy.

Image of Savings Piggy Bank

The SBP ensures a family continues to receive payments after a retiree’s death

Military retired pay is often an integral part of a retiree’s income. But that pay stops when the retiree passes away. With the SBP, a retiree can ensure his or her family continues to receive a portion of the retired pay amount after their death.

How to access this benefit

When a service member retires, he or she may be able to elect any of several SBP options. SBP elections cannot be canceled or changed after retirement except in specific instances such as a change in marital status or after the loss of a beneficiary. At retirement, full basic SBP for a spouses and children is automatic if no other valid election is made. You may not reduce or decline spouse coverage without your spouse’s written consent. If you have a former spouse, it may affect your options.

Learn More

To receive SBP benefits, a beneficiary needs to contact the Defense Finance Accounting Service to report the death. For retirees, beneficiaries can report the death using DFAS’ AskDFAS Report a Retiree’s Death online or by calling the DFAS Customer Care Center at 800-321-1080.

Upcoming changes to the eligibility verification for SBP annuitants

DFAS is simplifying eligibility verification requirements and forms. This implementation takes place Aug. 1, 2023. After that date, SBP annuitants will only owe one annual eligibility verification each year.

For a period of time, DFAS will accept both the old and new versions of the forms, so annuitants’ pay will not be suspended if they send the old form instead of the new one.

If an annuitant already owes DFAS an eligibility verification prior to Aug. 1, they will still owe that verification. They can send either the old or new form.

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