3 Important Things to Consider About Survivor Benefit Plans and Military Pensions

Absent a survivor benefit plan (SBP), a service member’s pension terminates upon the service member’s death.  Therefore, eligibility for SBP is important.  Here, are three important things to consider when determining your eligibility for survivor benefits.  This is general guide of who may be eligible for SBP coverage.  However, the facts of each case are different and your case may differ from this general advice.

  1. If you are the spouse of an active duty servicemember then you are covered by survivor benefits once the servicemember becomes entitled to retired pay.
  2. If you are the spouse of a military retiree from active duty and were married prior to the servicemember’s retirement, then you are covered by survivor benefits unless the servicemember chooses to waive SBP coverage or the servicemember chooses child-only coverage.  Either of these options requires the spouse’s written consent.
  3. If you are the former spouse of servicemember then divorce ends your SBP coverage unless the servicemember elects former spouse coverage from DFAS within a year of the entry of the final decree of divorce or the former spouse submits a court order requiring SBP coverage to DFAS within a year of the entry of the final decree of divorce.  A former spouse must also submit a DD Form 2656-10.

If you are involved in a divorce case with an active duty servicemember, national guard or reservist retiree, care should be used to determine your eligibility for a SBP.  Absent SBP coverage, your benefits as a former spouse can terminate if the servicemember predeceases you.  This could cause financial hardship.

SBP coverage is not without disadvantages.  Please read our post discussing the advantages and disadvantages of SBP coverage.

If you need help with a military divorce or custody case in Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George, or Sussex. Give us a call at (804) 668-5327 or email us at Contact@paulperduelaw.com to schedule a consultation.