Paycheck Chronicles

From The Mailbag: Survivor Benefit Plan Questions

Survivor Benefit Plan Questions
(Christopher Gross/DVIDS)

There are so many military benefits topics that are confusing, and the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) is definitely one of them. You have to understand SBP to make a smart decision about whether to participate in this income-continuation plan for the survivors of military retirees.

Survivor Benefit Plan Refunds

I'm not sure why, but this question always strikes me as odd.

When the spouse dies before the service member, can the service member ever get back the money he's paid into the SBP?

The answer is not popular.

There is no provision for the return of premiums paid on the SBP. However, if you remarry, and resume paying SBP premiums on your new spouse, the previously paid premiums will count towards your 30 years of paid-up premiums.

End of Retirement Pay

I hear this type of question frequently, and it always concerns me. I can't imagine not knowing what was going to happen to my finances in the future.

I am 72 years old and have been receiving 50% of my ex-husband's retirement since our divorce. We were married for over 20 years. He recently passed away. Can you please tell what will happen now? Will my percentage stop! If so, I need to know because I will have to make a lot of adjustments.

And again, an answer that is not very popular.

Because military retirement pay ends with the death of the service member, there will be no retirement pay to divide. If your ex-husband was paying for Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage with you as the beneficiary, then you will receive payments from the SBP annuity program. You can contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to see if you are a beneficiary of SBP. You can contact them by phone at 800-321-1080, from 8 am to 5 pm, Eastern Time.

Social Security and the Survivor Benefit Plan

What is the Social Security offset to SBP?

Finally, a question with an answer that people want to hear!

There is no longer a Social Security offset to SBP. This provision was eliminated on 1 April 2008.

The Survivor Benefit Plan is a great tool for many families, but you can't make an informed decision if you don't thoroughly understand all the tiny rules of the program. You may find more useful information in these articles:

SBP: The Biggest Decision of Your MilSpouse Life

Survivor Benefit Plan - Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Offset

Survivor Benefit Plan and Remarriage

What Would Life Look Like If You Were Widowed?

Five Reasons To Be Impressed By The Survivor Benefit Plan

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