Retired pay stops with the death of the retiree. Any remaining dependents will stop receiving Army benefits, unless you are enrolled in the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RC-SBP) or Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan (RSFPP), which provide eligible beneficiaries with a form of benefit called an "annuity." An annuity is a monthly payment that is made during the lifetime of the beneficiary, whose amount is based on a Veteran’s elected retirement benefit percentage.
The SBP cost depends on the level of coverage you choose. During your retirement, a monthly deduction/premium is taken from your pay to pay for your SBP coverage. This can be no more than 6.5 percent of your gross retired pay.
For retirees that are in receipt of a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) waiver and are receiving all monetary entitlements from the VA, the Army has no source to collect your SBP payments. When this occurs, you must complete a DD Form 2891 and submit it to the regional VA office to have SBP collected from the VA entitlement.
SBP enrollment is not automatic and must be applied for using the DD Form 2656 . The DD Form 2656 is also provided by the Retirement Service Office (RSO) for Soldiers transitioning from the Army. If the form is not completed and submitted during the transition process, DFAS will automatically begin SBP deductions from retired pay until the Veteran sends documentation proving marital status.
You are free to cancel or terminate your SBP election from the 25th month through the 36th month – or the third year – of your retirement. Please note that this window is exit only, meaning that it applies only to withdrawing from an unwanted election and does not allow retirees to begin an election that they had earlier declined.
For additional information on cost, coverage and how to apply or terminate your SBP election, visit the DFAS website .
How should my surviving spouse apply for SBP annuity?
If I die before retirement, is my spouse covered under SBP?
I do not have a spouse and have elected child-only coverage. If I die while the children are still eligible for the annuity, how long will they receive it?
I didn’t elect to participate in SBP before retiring, but would like to enroll now. Can I enroll in SBP after I’ve retired? How do I enroll?
Designated beneficiaries of a deceased military retiree's SBP must complete the following documents to begin their SBP annuity account:
Completed forms can be mailed or faxed to DFAS – U.S. Military Annuitant Pay. For additional information, visit the DFAS website .
No, SBP is not applicable until the time of retirement. Your spouse or eligible beneficiaries will receive death gratuity benefits and Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) if it was previously elected.
Child election is equal to spousal election, and the child will continue to receive it for his/her natural life.
If a Veteran was married at the time of retirement and declined the coverage, he/she is not eligible to enroll in SBP after retirement.