Quick Tools

Forms Library

Customer Service

M-F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET

Gray Area Retiree Spotlight: Your Service Needs to Know About Your Life-Changing Events!


This article is a continuation of the Gray Area Retiree Spotlight article that appeared in the March 2023 edition of the Retiree Newsletter. The previous issue introduced a series focusing on the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)—with an article titled “What is RCSBP?” To read the first article, please find it here: https://www.dfas.mil/GARwhatisRCSBP

As we continue our look at RCSBP, DFAS and your Branch of Service identified a common challenge that may impact you and your loved ones—timely notification of your life-changing events to your Branch of Service!

You had 90 days to elect one of three RCSBP annuity coverage options when you received your Notification of Eligibility (NOE), also known as the “20-Year letter.”

When you retired (stopped drilling), you began a period in the gray area that can last for decades while you await your age of pay eligibility—typically age 60.

Upon your eligibility for retired pay, the appropriate cost factors must be applied to ensure your deductions for RCSBP are computed correctly to reflect coverage you had in the gray area.

Please note: If no valid election was received by the Branch of Service at the end of the 90-day period after receipt of the NOE, the law requires the member to be enrolled in an immediate SBP annuity for their eligible beneficiaries.

Changes that Impact RCSBP During the Gray Area

A lot can happen over the months, years, or decades that you are awaiting pay in the gray area! With the passage of time comes life-changing events that can impact your RCSBP coverage and the proper amount of RCSBP costs to be deducted from your retired pay.

Here are some examples of life-changing events that may impact your original RCSBP election prior to pay eligibility:
  • Death of a spouse
  • Divorce
  • Remarriage
  • Adding a dependent child
  • Losing a dependent child
It is very important that you provide timely notice to your Branch of Service’s Human Resources Command when life-changing events occur. The notice needs to include proper documentation of the event (e.g. copy of a birth certificate, death certificate) and a DD Form 2656-6 SBP election change form.

Updates During the Gray Area Go to Your Branch of Service (Not DFAS)

Documentation for changes to your family/dependents during the gray area go to your Branch of Service.

If you did not send your documentation when the life-changing event happened, make sure to notify your Service and include your documentation when you send your retired pay application to your Branch of Service.

DFAS does not oversee your pay account until two major events occur:
  1. You reach your age of pay eligibility; and
  2. Your Service transmits a timely and complete retirement package to DFAS on your behalf.
How to Update Your Branch of Service About Life-Changing Events

DFAS and your Branch of Service are working closely together to improve the retired pay experience for Gray Area Retirees.

Each Service has a slightly different procedure for updating your information—including life-changing events impacting RCSBP—so we created specific webpages to provide assistance and contact information for each Branch of Service.

The main information webpage for Gray Area Retirees can be found at https://www.dfas.mil/grayarea. Each Branch of Service also has its own informational webpage in the menu to the right of the page (or following the main content if you are viewing the webpage on a mobile device).

You will also want to reference this information as you approach the age of your pay eligibility to ensure timely submission by your Branch of Service to DFAS to begin your retired pay.

DFAS and your Branch of Service want you to receive your initial pay entitlement as soon as possible once you are eligible. We also want your pay to be computed accurately. None of this can happen without your partnership, so please use these resources to provide timely notice of life-changing events up through the time you apply for retired pay!

Special Note for Gray Area Retirees Regarding the SBP and RCSBP Open Season

The SBP Open Season allows for retirees receiving retired pay, eligible members, or former members awaiting retired pay who were NOT enrolled in SBP or RCSBP as of December 22, 2022, to enroll. For a member who enrolls during the SBP Open Season, the law generally requires that the member will be responsible to pay retroactive SBP premium costs that would have been paid if the member had enrolled at retirement (or enrolled at another earlier date, depending on the member’s family circumstances).

The SBP Open Season also allows eligible members and former members who were enrolled in SBP or RCSBP as of December 22, 2022, to permanently discontinue their SBP coverage. The law generally requires the covered beneficiaries to concur in writing with the election to discontinue. Previously paid premiums will not be refunded.

The SBP Open Season runs from December 23, 2022 to January 1, 2024.

Gray Area Retirees and Reserve/Guard component members should contact their Branch of Service for information on how to enroll or discontinue SBP or RCSBP coverage during the SBP Open Season. Members of the Reserves, Guard, or members who are awaiting retired pay (Gray Area Retirees) should contact their Branch of Service – contact information is on the DFAS Gray Area Retiree webpage at https://www.dfas.mil/grayarea). 

Army Gray Area Retiree Soldiers (not yet receiving pay), please visit the Army’s webpage on the Survivor Benefit Plan at 
https://soldierforlife.army.mil/Retirement/survivor-benefit-plan or contact your local Retirement Services Officer.
Special Note from ARPC/AFPC for Air Force Gray Area Retirees Regarding Reduced Retired Pay Age (RRPA)

Air Force is currently experiencing problems with the Retirements feature in myFSS that are impacting RRPA retirement applications. They understand how frustrating this can be for members preparing for retirement and the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) is working to get the program functioning properly as quickly as possible. ARPC is currently in the testing phase of an interim process to mitigate the impact on members with retirement effective dates through August 31, 2023.  Please continue to visit https://www.arpc.afrc.af.mil/retirement for the most up to date information.


Page Updated June 28 2023