Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)


The Survivor Benefit Plan, or “SBP,” is a Department of Defense annuity plan (similar to a life insurance policy) that provides monthly payments to eligible surviving family members upon a veteran retiree’s death.

SBP Enrollment

When retiring from the military, service members must submit DD Form 2656, “Data for Payment of Retired Personnel,” in order to receive retired pay.  Enrollment in the Survivor Benefit Plan is done through DD Form 2656 as well.

  • If you do not specify dependents or the amount of coverage, you will be automatically enrolled for all eligible dependents at the full coverage level.
  • If you wish to decline coverage for your spouse or to enroll for less than full coverage, your spouse must sign the form as well to indicate that they agree.
  • This is the only opportunity to enroll in SBP for existing dependents; if the veteran marries or has children after retirement, they may be added by filing DD Form 2656-6, “Survivor Benefit Plan Election Change Certificate.”

Visit to download a copy of DD Form 2656.

Once you have enrolled, the monthly premium payments will be deducted from retirement pay, unless you elect otherwise.

SBP Eligible Beneficiaries

Spouses: The veteran’s spouse at the time of death.

  • If the veteran marries after retirement, the marriage must last for at least a year before death or result in children for the spouse to be eligible.
  • If the spouse remarries before the age of 55, they forfeit their SBP monthly payments until and unless that marriage ends.
  • SBP spouse benefits last for life for un-remarried spouses.

Former spouses: The veteran’s former spouse at the time of retirement.

  • If the veteran is divorced after retirement, the former spouse who was covered as a spouse can continue to be covered by filing DD Form 2656-1, “Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Election Statement for Former Spouse Coverage.”
  • DD Form 2656-6 is available at
  • If the veteran elects to cover a former spouse, a current spouse is ineligible to receive SBP.


  • All dependent children living with the retiree are eligible, including
    • Recognized natural children
    • Adopted children
    • Stepchildren
    • Foster children
  • Children must be under age 18, unless
    • Enrolled in school (coverage continues to age 22)
    • Permanently incapacitated by disability that occurred during eligibility (coverage continues for life)
    • Married (coverage ends upon marriage)

“Insured Interest” Individuals

If the veteran retiree has no other eligible beneficiaries, they may name an individual with a financial interest in their life.

  • Examples include any natural relations, stepparents, business partners, or children who are ineligible for child coverage due to age or self-sufficiency.
  • The individual must be a natural person—it cannot be a company, trust, or organization.
  • If the veteran retiree marries or has children, they can elect to change coverage to a spouse or children within one year of marriage/birth.

SPB Premiums and Payments

SBP premiums are deducted as a percentage of the chosen base amount, which can be a minimum of $300 and a maximum of the veteran retiree’s entire retired pay amount.

For spouse-only coverage, the premium is 6.5% of the chosen base amount.

If the veteran retiree was on active duty on or before March 1, 1990, the calculation may be slightly different and is adjusted annually based on the threshold amount and annual cost-of-living adjustments.

For child-only coverage, the premium will be based on the retiree’s age and the age of the youngest child.

For spouse and child coverage, the premium will be based on the spouse-only premium plus additional costs based on the retiree’s and spouse’s ages and the age of the youngest child.

For insurable interest coverage,   the premium is 10 percent of gross retired pay plus an additional 5 percent for every 5 years in age difference, if the beneficiary is younger than the retiree.

  • The insurable interest premium cannot exceed 40 percent of retired pay regardless of an age difference exceeding 30 years (10 percent plus 30 percent for 6 increments of 5-year age difference).

In all cases, SBP annuity payments will be made at a rate of 55 percent of the chosen base amount.

  • If the coverage is for spouse and children, the annuity will be paid to the spouse unless the spouse dies or remarries before age 55.
  • If the coverage is for multiple children, the annuity will be divided equally among all eligible children.

For up-to-date calculations of premiums and annuity payments, visit Premium 2015.xls?ver=2015-04-21-063003-507 to download the worksheet provided by the Department of Defense’s Office of the Actuary.

To discontinue SBP payments due to a spouse’s death or divorce, visit to download DD Form 2656-2, “Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Termination Request.”

SBP and Other Survivor Benefits

Until 2008, SBP annuity payments were offset by any Social Security payments received by surviving spouses.  This is no longer the case.

If a survivor is receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), they cannot receive the Survivor Benefit Plan as well.

  • If the DIC amount is greater than the SBP annuity, the surviving spouse will be refunded all payments that were made into the SBP.

If the SBP annuity exceeds the DIC amount, the surviving spouse will receive the difference between the SBP and the DIC and will be refunded some of the payments made into the SBP in proportion to the annuity not received.

  • Grachya
    Posted at 19:49h, 24 January Reply

    I opted along with my wife not to take the SBP. The documents were signed along with notary stamp. A month after my retirement SPB was taken out. I called DFAC, I was told that they couldn’t read the stamp. I know this was B.S but ok, I found the nearest military office that serves veteran and rescanned the paperwork. Yes, I was told it had to be VA center because for some reason I could’t use the public library. I called back the next month when again the SBP was taken out. This time I was told it will take some time but that I will get my money back. So I waited 3 more months and each month the SPB was taken out. Finally, I called DFAC office. This time I was told that there was a problem with my signature because my date was different then my wife’s date although her date is the same date as the notary and my date is the same date that I signed my transition paperwork. I am confused as to my my date matters if her signature is the same as the notary to decline SPB.

  • Robin Bibb
    Posted at 14:13h, 22 June Reply

    How do I have my SBP deducted from my VA disability pay? I was TDRL upon my release from active duty and SBP was automatically deducted from my retired pay but once I was permanently retired and VA took over my compensation I receive a monthly bill and have to go online each month to pay.
    Thank you.

  • Doug miller
    Posted at 18:37h, 23 December Reply

    as long as you and your wife did not refuse srb and you checked the correct boxes on the dd form 2656 she should get whatever you two decided on full or partial

  • Laura Farber
    Posted at 11:00h, 07 November Reply

    My husband made me sign a DD2656 form at the time of his retirement but would not tell why I had to sign it and became very angry when I asked him to explain, I became so scared that I signed it but he won’t give me a copy or tell me what I signed. He is abusive so I can’t really push too hard for I am very afraid of him. Can someone please explain or give me contact information where I can obtains a copy of the form I signed.

  • Patricia Garner
    Posted at 10:03h, 13 April Reply

    I am the Veteran if my spouse passes away what becomes of the SBP?

  • Isaac A.
    Posted at 17:00h, 02 February Reply

    I have had the same problems as others with downloading dd form 2656. This needs to be fixed of course they might not want t fix it and just make it harder for retirees to get their money.

  • Ken
    Posted at 00:37h, 27 January Reply

    There has been a change to the SBP/DIC Offset effective as of the 2020 NDAA- the offset will gradually eliminated starting 2021, the offset will be two thirds in 2021 and one third in 2022 followed by elimination of the offfset in 2023

  • Phil Fosterman
    Posted at 16:57h, 17 January Reply

    Hello…I’m doing my paperwork to start receiving my retirement pay and I’m trying to figuare out the SBP. When I retired in Oct1999 from the Navy Reserves I was not married so I declined SBP. Now that I’m ready to receive my retirement pay (age 60) and I got married in 2005, I was trying to find out if I can now opt into the SBP using DD form 2656-6. I’ve gotten two answers on this…yes I can…just submit the form to DFAS…then DFAS says no I can’t and that I have to wait for an open enrollment and they would come from congress…and the last time they had an open enrollment was 2004. So I’m asking for help here….HELP…Please!


  • Jonathon
    Posted at 20:43h, 30 October Reply

    What is the fax number to fax a DD 2656-6. Thanks.


  • Pauline Geraci
    Posted at 22:02h, 25 October Reply

    DFAS is a mess. I am a retiree reservist. They don’t have a common SOP for answers. They just spout out whatever comes to their head. I have been calling them about retired pay and SBP maybe 30 times and I get a different answer every time. The won’t let you talk to a supervisor at all. What civilian company can get away with that. Also, when I first signed up for SBP when I was a reservist, they don’t tell you that you are stuck with that until your third year of receiving retirement pay, then you can opt out. Yet, in my retirement paperwork that I had to submit to HRC then to DFAS I had to fill out a 2656. My husband declined SBP. Nowhere on that form did it say you can’t opt out until the 3rd year! We had it notarized. I talked on and off to DFAS since July of this year and no one until today, almost November, told me that the 2656 I signed to get my retirement pay in Sept of 2018 was worthless and I had to wait for 3 years. I am tired of waiting 30-40 minutes on their phone. THERE IS NO CUSTOMER SERVICE WORTH TALKING ABOUT.

  • Joann Adam
    Posted at 18:46h, 02 October Reply

    My dad passed 09/23/19 . He had bladdercancerdue to us living in campLegune North Carolina where I was born .He passed away before he could sign the form. He severed in Marines 20 yrs. He never enrolled at the VA office close to where we live. I nees help with my mom she too is 85 and can not be home alone. We need help someone to.stay withher while I work.. Could some please Even though my dad did not sign upat the VA offixehestill served 20 yrsand went to Viet ban and korea war. He also had panxreticcanverand a pig vauvle. All we need is for someine to stay with my Mon

  • Bryan
    Posted at 20:00h, 13 April Reply

    Whatever you think is helpful by leaving another link to the DD From 2656, none of them work on Civilian computers. This needs to be fixed ASAP.
    Retirees don’t have CAC cards or secure terminals and the link to Adobe products that is also suggested also does not work and comes up with a 404 message as not being found.
    Maintenance on these sites need to be followed up with testing on civilian computers so that the products or the software to the products work as intended.
    I would suggest that those in the know get on this, as this is very inconvenient.
    If you won’t fix it, then stop promoting the links.

  • Ronald Bradford
    Posted at 13:39h, 12 April Reply

    My son is no longer eligible for SBP, why do I have to pay for it until I am 70?

  • Gregg Cowles
    Posted at 17:33h, 09 January Reply

    Why is it so hard to get out of this plan? I am not divorced yet, working on it, just about to have my 3rd and maybe a 4th back surgery. My wife and I are separated and I don’t have the money for this on my own. Sad part is that I am trapped in this because my life didn’t fall apart in the time frame given to cancel. Sorry my life fell apart at a time that doesn’t fit that schedule, but why am I FORCED to stay in something I no longer, need, want or have the money for? Half the household income left. All I have is my disability pay. I can’t get a job due to ongoing medical problems, yet you are forcing me in to a life of paying money that I don’t have for something I don’t need.

  • M Ski
    Posted at 21:02h, 18 December Reply

    Can we get “here’s to you DFAS?” Wow, anyone tried calling to get anything done recently. The computer system doesn’t work and the customer service is merely a zombie on the other end telling you to use the computer system! Doing a great job DFAS (sarcasm). Not sure if this another exam of how affirmative action fails us all or just complacency and incompetence of those who have no clue how to “treat others as I would like to be treated”.

    Really DFAS?

    Retired CWO Ski

  • Brenda Harris
    Posted at 21:13h, 27 August Reply

    Ssn, sorry

  • Brenda Harris
    Posted at 21:13h, 27 August Reply

    Upon divorce 2006, court ordered SBP, received portion of retired pay, had limited info on SBP. Retired pay office said send hand written, I deem SBP former spouse benefit with both our names, can, current addresses. His retirement pay has kicked it 7 months ago, but unfortunately they said sbp was incomplete. They gave me misinformation, was not told to send certified copy of divorce or dd form. Now I feel they are giving me run around when I call, even though their entity gave me the wrong info. Have since sent in all missing paperwork, they will not acknowledge me, what can I do now?

  • Paul Sullivan
    Posted at 16:52h, 08 August Reply

    Adam. Please not the link to the DD2656 does not work. I keep getting a page that says it should open shortly but it never does. There is reference to having the most current version of Adobe Reader and I have that but it still does not work. I have tried on three different computers to no avail. I just spent 47 minutes on hold with the Reserve Personnel Center before I was disconnected. Any suggestions on how to get this form?

  • Jason
    Posted at 23:40h, 15 May Reply

    My wife and I elected child only SBP on your 2656, but DFAS processed it as spouse only. I’ve sent an inquiry to DFAS and attached a scanned copy of my 2656 showing we elected child only. I’m waiting for a response. Is there anything else I can do?

  • Jason
    Posted at 14:04h, 09 May Reply

    I am aware of the remarriage rules regarding the SBP/DIC benefits; is there one that speaks to co-habitation? I have seen a random reference on the website, but nothing in binding literature. Anything at this point would be a great help.

  • Rhonda Honaker
    Posted at 23:05h, 29 March Reply

    My husband allegedly switched the SBP to my daughter. However, I thought we added her as a secondary dependent. I did not fill out a 2656-6, “Survivor Benefit Plan Election Change Certificate.”During our divorce I was awarded the SBP annuitant and he was supposed to list me within a year, by using the 2656-1. I just learned that this may not have been done. HOw do I find out IF I am still listed as the person. My daughter just turned 23 and is no longer able to be listed as a secondary dependent. I want to obtain the paperwork that has my signatures. To see what has actually occurred. However, what do I do to correct the SBP Annuitant and HOW do I get the paperwork he submitted. I know that I have to wait for the clarification order to be written to get back in the system. I also need to file a 2656 – 10 but it has been almost 11 years since the divorce. How long has this been rule been in effect, regarding the 2656-10 and -1. How do I file an appeal? Or do I just submit the paperwork for 2656-10. Or can my lawyer do that?

    • Matt Terry
      Posted at 18:24h, 23 April Reply


      Your lawyer should be able to help, otherwise contacting your local Veterans Affairs office would be your first steps.


  • Connie Hintergardt
    Posted at 21:08h, 08 March Reply

    Upon taking care of my Mother in Law, we have found out that she doesn’t receive Survivor Benefits. Her husband retired from the Air Force after 22 years of service. She received benefits for awhile, but it stopped. I need to find out why it stopped and if she is able to get it get it.

    • Matt Terry
      Posted at 19:11h, 23 April Reply


      Contact the Veterans Affairs office nearest you for the answers you seek.


  • Richard Moss
    Posted at 17:21h, 22 February Reply

    Why do retiree benefits stop at death? Your wife has been at your side during 20 years of service to the United States Marine Corps and have been married for 38 years,why does she not get the benefits we would have enjoyed together?Social Security doesn’t stop

    • Tomonthebeach
      Posted at 07:46h, 30 August Reply

      When I die, social security might very well stop because my spouse is 44 and I am 70. Surviving spouses lose all SSA pension income until turning 65 unless they settle for a reduction by apply at age 60 (our plan). I have spent at least 40 hours (not done yet) writing out instructions and completing forms my spouse will need to access survivor benefits from DFAS and OPM, SSA, TSP, and VA. Of course, my VA disability comp stops with my last breath, but VA pays for transporting my carcass up to Arlington, my spouse must make a claim to VA for that. All of them want death certificates, marriage certificates, sometimes birth certificates, citizenship proof and of course all 3 of my DD214’s. And that’s just for starters. There is still Medicare B, DEERS, and TRICARE to deal with. All the forms want much the same information, which the government already has had for many decades in their data systems. Somebody could make a good buck just executing all this paperwork when we die.

      • Katrina
        Posted at 13:55h, 06 January Reply

        You mention that you have written instructions as to how to file for SBP. My dad died a few days ago. Is there any way you could share what you have learned regarding the steps (for my mom)? I would so appreciate it. As you stated, there is so much to do just now and any time saved would be nice.

  • Danelle
    Posted at 15:08h, 22 January Reply

    When making elections is 35a or 35d full coverage when electing children only?

  • Gail Brame
    Posted at 01:39h, 18 September Reply

    My mother (Charlotte Ottinger) is a surviving spouse of a Coast Guard. She has recently had a major health setback and is in need of assistance from the VA.
    Please, as quickly as possible, address a breakdown of her monthly benefits in a letter for 2017. Please note how much is for Aid and Dependent Care.
    It is of the utmost urgency we have this letter no later than tomorrow as Medicaid is requiring this information before we can proceed any further.
    My mother is now 92 years old.

    • Adam
      Posted at 18:13h, 18 September Reply

      Gail, you will need to call the VA Benefits hotline at 1-800-827-1000.

  • Michelle Marino
    Posted at 19:22h, 25 July Reply

    My Arb order number army corrections board
    AR20140021359 ordered September 17, 2015 SBP back to 1993 VA said I was dead and I was left off casualty report perminent incapasitation 1990 dFAS has not paid my claim due to minor abuse records back to 1987 and those were sealed the order clearly states my claim was received and processed finally justice I thought due to identity theift records in various systems coming up I sent in the ID theif pleading guilty in court still no pay who do I complain to and what office do I contact even if they took ID theift as truth missouri law states an incapasitated child has to have judicial approval to marry or it’s null I even sent a copy of the law. And contacted the court house it showed up in they removed it I sent a copy of that those records are from the 80s my claim is 1993 with perminet incapasitation in 1990 dad died 1993 the record was sent to DFAS apeals in Virginia I am so confused at this point I don’t have a clue what to do please help yes the VA lost an incapsitated child for twenty pluse years DOD and DEERS never lost me my is is active

    • Adam
      Posted at 17:23h, 27 July Reply

      Hi Michelle, I would suggest you call the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 for help.

  • Gary Whitney
    Posted at 23:17h, 06 July Reply

    I would like to download a DD Form 2656-2 but so far each link I try is not working.. I am within my 24 to 36 month window but I need the form. Please help

  • Rob Gardner
    Posted at 19:17h, 29 June Reply

    Link to DD2656 does not work. Is there an alternative link that will produce a printable form?

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