No one forgets to care for his or her Family on purpose. It just happens – more often than one might think when it comes to the military Survivor Benefit Plan, or SBP. Most often, retired Soldiers don’t know the federal law and the time limits it imposes on maintaining their SBP elections.
If a dependent status changes after retirement, a retiree may need to update their SBP election with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, or DFAS. Failure to submit changes within the timeframe prescribed by law may cause a person to lose coverage for their new dependent or incur an unexpected debt for backdated SBP premiums.
Those who had spouse or spouse and child SBP coverage and the spouse died or they divorced, must notify DFAS by submitting a DD Form 2656-6, SBP Election Change Certificate, with the death certificate or divorce decree. Those without a spouse will have their SBP premiums suspended.
Those who want to change their SBP election to voluntary or court-ordered former spouse coverage after divorce have one year from the date of the divorce to submit a DD Form 2656-1, SBP Election Statement for Former Spouse Coverage, to DFAS.
Those who remarried and did not change SBP coverage to former spouse SBP have three options: resume the original level of spouse SBP coverage for the new spouse; elect not to resume spouse SBP coverage for the new spouse; or increase the portion of retired pay covered by SBP.
Within one year of the remarriage, the retiree must provide DFAS a DD Form 2656-6 with the marriage certificate and their selected option. If they take no action by the first anniversary of the remarriage, the original spouse SBP coverage and premiums will resume.
Those who marry for the first time after retirement have one year to provide DFAS a DD Form 2656-6 and marriage certificate to add their spouse to their SBP coverage. If they had child SBP coverage, the spouse SBP coverage will be for same amount of retired pay elected. If the retiree has an insurable interest SBP election, he or she has one year from their marriage to notify DFAS in writing to cancel it and submit a DD Form 2656-6 with the marriage certificate.
Those who had child SBP coverage at retirement and acquire another SBP-eligible child after retirement must update DFAS by providing the birth certificate or legal document establishing the parent-child relationship. If an individual had no children at retirement, he or she has one year to establish the child SBP election by submitting a DD Form 2656-6 to DFAS with the documents that established the parent-child relationship. For those who elected spouse SBP at retirement, adding the child will change their election to spouse and child.
When an insurable interest beneficiary dies, a retiree has 180 days to notify DFAS in writing of a new insurable interest beneficiary or to cancel their coverage. If the new beneficiary is not a closer relation than a cousin, the individual must also prove the new beneficiary’s insurable interest in them.
The DD Form 2656-6 and DD Form 2656-1 are available on DFAS’s homepage at http://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/forms.html. For more information or assistance, contact the nearest Retirement Services officer listed on pages 25 – 27.
The Fort Huachuca Retiree Council meets quarterly in January, April, July and October. The next meeting will be held on Oct. 11, 10 a.m., in the SFAC Conference Room, Murr Community Center. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.