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Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

This program continues paying the surviving dependent a monthly inflation adjusted income should the retired soldier pass away. This coverage must be elected at the time of retirement. Historically, there have only been four open periods when retirees were able to opt in to coverage. There is no guarantee of an open season so it is best to elect this coverage at retirement.

SBP coverage can be provided for a current spouse, former spouse, children or business partner. It is also possible to cover the spouse and children. Explanations of these different scenarios will be provided during the ACAP briefing.

SBP is an inflation adjusted income that can be provided in the event of the soldier’s death. SBP reduces the amount of taxable retirement income while the retiree is still alive. SBP payouts to the survivor are taxed but in many cases this will be at a lower rate what the retiree was paying on income.

The coverage provided is depends on the base amount. This can be full retirement pay or as little as $300/month. The surviving dependent will be paid 55% of the base amount that is elected. When a cost of living adjustment is made in retirement pay, the SBP coverage and premiums also increase.

As an example, spouse coverage can be provided at whichever is less of the following calculations:

6.5% of the base amount or

2.5% of the amount up to $635 (current as of 2006) plus 10% of the remaining amount.

For example, if the soldier elected coverage of $300, the premium would be $7.50/month. An election of $1400 would be $91/month. This premium can be deducted as an allotment from the retirement pay each month. The premium amount is determined by the pay as well as who is being covered. The above calculation is for the current spouse only.

If the spouse dies first, SBP premiums are stopped as soon as the Army is notified of the death. There are also special stipulations in place in the case of divorce, if the spouse remarries after the retiree’s death, etc.

Further information on SBP can be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/militarypay/survivor/sbp/index.html

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

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