Pentagon Lifts Onerous Proof Requirements for Student Military Survivor Benefits

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(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

For college students who are the beneficiaries of a parent's military survivor benefits, the twice-yearly requirement that they verify their enrollment status at a school just got a whole lot easier.

The Defense Department announced Wednesday that it will now allow students to "self-certify," meaning they will not have to order a transcript or get a school signature every semester to verify their enrollment to receive their benefits.

The Survivor Benefit Plan annuity is paid to children of fallen service members or designated beneficiaries of a military retiree parent who died and was enrolled in SBP. The payments usually end when the child turns 18, but may continue until age 22 for those enrolled in higher education.

Related: New Law Protects Student Veterans During COVID-19 Crisis

In the past, students have been required to have their college, university or vocational school complete a form at the start of every semester or provide a transcript to the Defense Finance Accounting Service to receive payments.

The process, along with the requirements that students verify their enrollment after age 21 to continue receiving Tricare health benefits, is a bureaucratic hurdle that the Pentagon described as "frustrating for busy college students."

It has become even harder to obtain the verification during the COVID-19 pandemic when school campuses are closed.

Under the new process, these beneficiaries can complete a new form, DD Form 2788, the "Child Annuitant's School Certification" form, once a year, verifying they are still enrolled without a school signature.

According to the DoD, the form is "shorter and simpler, focusing on the student's future schooling plans."

"This updated form and streamlined process will improve the timeliness and efficiency of this important program and ensure these survivors continue receiving this valuable benefit," DoD officials said in a release.

To make the process even easier, if a student submits their email address to myPay, DFAS will send them a reminder when the form is due.

For more information, go to the portion of the DFAS website on school certifications.

The new form applies only to students receiving SBP payments. It is not for verifying student enrollment for continued coverage of health care under the Tricare benefit. For health care, student status must be confirmed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), and students are required to obtain a letter from their school's registrar's office verifying that they are enrolled full-time.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

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