Can you cancel the Survivor Benefit Plan? Not really

Q:  My hus­band is retired. We were mar­ried after he retired from the mil­i­tary. I did sign up to receive sur­vivor ben­e­fits and have been mak­ing the pay­ments for eight years. My hus­band and I have thought of get­ting a larger life Insur­ance pol­icy and can­celling my sur­vivor ben­e­fits.  Can we do that?  How do you can­cel your Sur­vivor Ben­e­fits? I can­not find this infor­ma­tion on any web site.

 

– Kel­lie, Palm Coast, Fla.

A:  What do you want first, the good news or, well, the bad? Let’s get (what you will con­sider) the bad news out of the way first: You’re prob­a­bly stuck with SBP.  There is a win­dow between the 25–36th month fol­low­ing receipt of retired pay to ter­mi­nate the cov­er­age, oth­er­wise the deci­sion is per­ma­nent (bar­ring a death or divorce).  The gov­ern­ment has rules, you know. Per­son­ally, I really don’t think that’s bad news! I believe SBP is the deal of the cen­tury. And a great ben­e­fit of mil­i­tary ser­vice. It’s a cost effec­tive way to ensure you have a reli­able income stream should some­thing hap­pen to your hus­band. From a cost per­spec­tive, it’s hard to beat. Paid for with pre-tax money, it pro­vides a cost-of-living-adjusted life­time ben­e­fit. It’s hard to dupli­cate – even with life insur­ance. Rather than can­celling SBP, I’d sug­gest that you visit the VA web­site or usaa​.com and use a life insur­ance cal­cu­la­tor to deter­mine if you need to sup­ple­ment your SBP with a com­mer­cial life insur­ance policy.

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22 responses to “Can you cancel the Survivor Benefit Plan? Not really”

  1. My for­mer spouse( Larry Jas­mann, aka Lawrence M. Jas­mann ) did not let the USCG know we were divorced after he retired in 1990. We divorced in 1997. The USCG con­tin­ued to take the allot­ment because he did not let them know. Now I am told that he needed to inform them that he des­ig­nated me as ben­e­fi­ciary still within a one year win­dow. Since he did not and I was not informed of any rules.…what are the options? My agree­ment says I receive 50% of all retired pay after the allot­ment is taken. This means to me that he can still keep the SBP, nam­ing another wife bene­fi­icary and I will pay for that.

    1. I am assum­ing by allot­ment you mean SBP pay­ment? If it wasn’t in your ORIGINAL divorce decree that he is to main­tain SBP specif­i­cally for you then you have NO options. He can name his new wife as ben­e­fi­ciary. It was not up to him to inform you of the rules for SBP, it was up to you and your lawyer to do the research. And YOU aren’t pay­ing for the SBP allot­ment, he is. He is the one that did the time to earn the pen­sion, and if you didn’t request SBP in the divorce decree then he is doing noth­ing wrong.

      1. My agree­ment states after tak­ing out the SBP, I am to receive 1/2 of the retired pay. To me this meant, I had to pay the SBP allot­ment but he had to make the des­ig­na­tion to do so…to con­tinue it.

        What do you think?

        I have to say I have not been for­warded 1/2 of the pay and he did not make the auto direct deposit as named in the agree­ment. Finally in 2001, the USCG allowed me to do so on my own so that I auto­mat­i­cally receive all cost of liv­ing raises in the auto direct pay­ment. In other words Larry Jas­mann aka Lawrence M. Jas­mann was in con­tempt of the court agree­ment. I appealed to him repeat­edly and was told by Pay and Per­son­nel when inquir­ing about cer­tain sta­tus, that because of pri­vacy act…and I think loy­alty is with the mem­ber, that I could not be told what he had done. I was con­cerned also because my for­mer sis­ter in law had the same name.…Susan Jas­mann. I was check­ing to make cer­tain there was not a mix up on that. Because there are trust issues from the mar­riage( not pay­ing taxes and not telling me etc.), I needed to ver­ify from a bonafide source this info.

        Susan Phillips

        S

  2. To Susan, I am pretty famil­iar with SBP rules and your ques­tion depends quite a bit on your divorce decree. Does your divorce decree state that he would be required to pro­vide SBP to you after the divorce (i.e. elect “for­mer spouse” cov­er­age)? If not, then he paid for sev­eral years that he shouldn’t have. If that’s the case, I hope he gets that money back! If you were sup­posed to get 50% of his retired pay, then I hope he shares 50% of the refund with you! (though usu­ally, a for­mer spouses’ per­cent­age of retired is cal­cu­lated before any deductions!)

    It would be highly unusual for the Pay Cen­ter not to know you were divorced. He should have taken you out of DEERS so that you no longer showed up as a fam­ily mem­ber for him. As soon as the Pay Cen­ter learned of your divorce, they should have can­celled his SBP pre­mi­ums from his retired pay unless his decree forced him to change his cov­er­age from “spouse” to “for­mer spouse” (the cost is the same for “spouse” or “for­mer spouse” cov­er­age.) If he is not required to con­tinue to pro­vide SBP to you, then yes, he could elect to cover a future spouse — but HE pays for that, not you. The cost comes out of his retired pay. Your per­cent­age of his retired pay is typ­i­cally cal­cu­lated from the gross retired pay. I’d be really sur­prised if your por­tion is cal­cu­lated AFTER SBP costs are deducted. Again, this really depends on your divorce decree so I’d review it care­fully. If what you’re after is the SBP, then the only way to get it is to make sure your decree states it (which usu­ally involves going to court.) Good luck!

    1. Kate, Thanks for replying.

      Larry Jas­mann can­not have it both ways…he took more than 50% and he took SBP allot­ment that I was not name to receive.…
      He still owes me unpaid spousal sup­port, full amount of USCG retire­ment share, med­ical out of pocket expenses/ agree­ment, money from our daughter’s post sec­ondary des­ig­nated trust acct that he spent for a ring for Judy Jas­mann, etc. etc.

      He is seen online spend­ing on hob­bies such as radio control.

      And now he spends time mak­ing what is pub­lic hid­den.…
      This man is no gen­tle­man or honorable.

      Susan Phillips

      1. Susan, You do real­ize that by post­ing his name and yours on a pub­lic forum that he can sue you for libel if he ever sees this post right?

        1. LIBEL.…look up libel. I tell the truth.

          Susan Phillips

  3. I was sin­gle when I retired from the army. I got mar­ried in the mid 90’s and have been mar­riad only about 7years. I have three ques­tions.
    !. if we divorce is she enti­tled to any of my mil­i­tary retired pay?
    2. will sh still be enti­tled to the SBP?
    3. we never con­su­mated the mar­riage, nor did we sleep in the same bed except every great once in a while. under these cir­cum­stances can this mar­riage be annulled?

  4. How do I find out if my hus­band signed up for sur­vivors ben­e­fits? He is 91 and does not remem­ber. He was a Cap­tain in the navy and was a doc­tor. He was in the ser­vice from 1941 to about 1966.
    Thanks
    Mary Davis

    1. You should be able to find out by con­tact­ing the Defense Finance and Account­ing Ser­vice (DFAS). 888–332-7411 for cus­tomer service

  5. I mar­ried my wife after I retired. We were mar­ried for 23 years. We are get­ting a divorce and I am mar­ry­ing another lady. Do I have to keep her on my SBP? What % would I have to pay? I would like to leave some­thing for my new wife.

  6. I am a ex spouse, mar­ried to a mil­i­tary mem­ber (Army) for 24 years, he was in 25 years. I am receiv­ing 35% of his retire­ment. At the time of our divorce, My ex said if I wanted to keep the SBP i could keep pay­ing on it. A fter about six months, I couldn’t afford the pay­ments. I just assumed it was void now. A cou­ple of years ago my ex said he was still pay­ing for it and I was the ben­e­fi­ciary. He has a new wife been mar­ried 8 years. Is there any­way I can find out if its still active and I am the ben­e­fi­cialry? Also, some told me that if he passes away before me, I will get some of his social secu­rity, is that true? Thanks, Jackie

  7. I am a for­mer spouse, mar­ried to a mil­i­tary mem­ber (Air Force) for 29 years and I was mar­ried to him when he retired. I was given the SBP and my ques­tion is I am now 72 years old and have never remar­ried but may in the near future. Does remar­riage at this age affect my get­ting the SBP from my ex when he dies? Thanks. Carole

    1. nope, 55 is the cut off age, after that you can re-marry

  8. can it be can­celled if the wife of dead retired ser­vice­man has been liv­ing with new part­ner (not offi­cially mar­ried) since right after the death of the hus­band. rela­tion­ship started even before the death, and now still liv­ing together…
    thanks krunch.

    1. Nope, in mil­i­tary you are mar­ried or you aren’t there is no in between

  9. As a spouse of a for­mer mil­i­tary mem­ber (20 years in the Air Force) I signed a waiver and opted out of SBP in exchange for more life insur­ance. Is there any way we can buy back in so I will receive the Sur­vivor Ben­e­fits? By sign­ing the waiver did I also sign away my mil­i­tary med­ical insur­ance, base priv­i­leges and mil­i­tary ID card if my hus­band dies? Patty

    1. you can’t buy back in once you sign the waiver unless they have an qual­i­fy­ing event (which they haven’t in eons) like a mas­sive change to the pro­gram. You didn’t sign it away for more life insur­ance (because that’s pretty much what SBP is) you signed it away for a higher monthly retire­ment check. If your hus­band dies every­thing else is safe, you just lose his entire pen­sion check. Unless you remarry after his death, in which case you lose the health insur­ance ben­e­fits forever.

  10. My friend has been pay­ing into SBP since 1997, but as of April 30, 2013 his spouse passed awayed. To be able to ter­mi­nate the SBP is the DD form 2656–2 with copy of death cert will be needed ???

  11. We divorced 16 months ago, no men­tion of SBP in the divorce decree. I was told I could elect SBP and then can­cel once divorce is final and then I read about a small win­dow to can­cel SBP pay­ment but would have to get the con­sent of the ex spouse.
    What are my options; if any at this point to have it can­celled and pos­si­bly receive a refund.

  12. I hope you can help on this one. In Feb 2010 I divorced and through divorce decree was oblig­ated to main­tain my ex-wife on the SBP until my youngest grad­u­ated High School. I am plan­ning to re-marry in June 2014 and although I can’t change the SBP now, what hap­pens if I were to die before my youngest grad­u­ated from high school? Since I couldn’t be there to change the ben­e­fi­ciary, does my ex con­tinue to get ben­e­fits forever?

  13. Is there a cer­tain amount of time that a wife has to be mar­ried to her spouse when her hus­band died to recieve his benefits,

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