SBP Child Coverage Cost and Benefits

A military child attends a Trunk or Treat event on Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Apryl Hall.)
A military child attends a Trunk or Treat event on Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Apryl Hall.)

SBP was designed to give income protection not only to your spouse, but also to your children until they become self-supporting (i.e., until they are no longer dependents). Child coverage may be elected with or without spouse (former spouse) coverage.

Eligible Children

Children are eligible for SBP payments as long as they are unmarried, under age 18, or under age 22 if still in school. A child who is disabled and incapable of self-support remains eligible if the disability occurred before age 18 (or before age 22 if a full time student). Marriage at any age will terminate a child's eligibility. If you elect former spouse and children coverage, only those eligible children from the marriage between you and your former spouse are covered.

Your children who are under 22 years of age and pursuing a full time course of study or training in a high school, trade school, technical or vocational institute, junior college, college, university, or comparable recognized educational institute are eligible to receive SBP benefits. While pursuing a full time course of study or training, a child whose twenty-second birthday occurs before July 1 or after August 31 of a calendar year, is considered to be 22 years of age on the first day of July after that birthday.

Benefit Payments

If you're married and you choose not to cover your spouse, you must get written agreement from your spouse.  If your spouse agrees by signing the form, or if you are unmarried, you can elect to cover your dependent children.

If you have children but are not married, benefits are paid under the "Children Only" category, and all eligible children divide the SBP annuity equally.

If the SBP annuity is divided among multiple children, as each child ages beyond the eligibility limit, the annuity is reapportioned among the remaining children. Ultimately, the youngest child ends up receiving the entire annuity, which then terminates when the youngest child reaches the eligibility limit.

Eligible children include natural children, adopted children, stepchildren, and foster children who lived with you in a normal parent-child relationship.

A child who becomes incapable of self-support due to a physical or mental disability before age 18, or before age 22 while a full-time student, may receive benefits for life, as long as he or she remains unmarried. Prior to electing SBP coverage for an incapacitated child, you should research the effect of the SBP income on other benefits to which the incapacitated child may be eligible under state or local welfare or support programs.

SBP Costs (Premiums)

The SBP premiums for child-only coverage are based on the member's age and the age of the youngest child on birthdays nearest the date the election takes effect.  Costs for child coverage stop when all children lose eligibility to receive payments.  Eligible children equally divide the annuity.  A cost computation for child-only coverage can be obtained by contacting an SBP counselor at the nearest military installation.

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