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The Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) enables members who served in Reserve Components and qualify for retired pay to leave the people they care about with a benefit called an “annuity.” You can choose a benefit for: “Spouse Only;” “Spouse and Child(ren);” “Child(ren) Only;” “Natural Interest Person;” “Former Spouse;” or “Former Spouse and Child(ren).”
An annuity is a monthly payment that lasts the lifetime of your beneficiary after you pass away. The amount of the monthly payment is a percentage of your retired pay, and that percentage depends upon the election you make if you sign up for RCSBP.
RCSBP is quite similar to the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) that covers non-reserve components of the armed services. However, there are a number of differences in eligibility, coverage and cost that reflect the unique nature of Reserve and Guard service.
Who is Eligible for RCSBP?
RCSBP is available to Reserve Component members listed below:
• The Army National Guard of the United States
• The Army Reserve
• The Navy Reserve
• The Marine Corps Reserve
• The Air National Guard of the United States
• The Air Force Reserve
Reserve Component members are eligible to sign up for RCSBP after they complete the equivalent of 20 years of service. You can make the election when you receive your Notice of Eligibility (NOE) Letter (also known as the 20-year letter).
When you received your NOE, you have 90 days to choose an option regarding RCSBP. If your election is not received within the 90 days, the law requires that you are automatically enrolled for Option C. Therefore it is very important you make an election as soon as you receive your NOE.
There are three options each Reserve Component member can choose:
Option A - You may decline to make election until the age of Non-Regular Retirement, age 60 or earlier if you are eligible for reduced retirement. You will remain eligible to elect SBP coverage upon reaching the age you qualify for a Reserve non-regular retirement. No annuity will be payable to your beneficiaries if you die before non-regular retirement. Spousal concurrence is a requirement and it must be notarized.
Option B – You may defer the annuity. This election provides coverage for the annuity payments, but if you die before age 60, the RCSBP or SBP annuity does not start until date you would have been 60 years old. At non-regular retirement, the RCSBP election becomes your SBP election and you will pay both RCSBP premiums for coverage already received and SBP premiums for current coverage. Spousal concurrence is a requirement and it must be notarized.
Option C – You may elect for an immediate annuity. Provide coverage for an RCSBP or SBP annuity to begin immediately after your death, whether you die before or after your non-regular retirement. At your non-regular retirement, the RCSBP election becomes your SBP election and you will pay both RCSBP premiums for coverage already received and SBP premiums for current coverage.
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 (Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan) 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 (Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan) 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.
Please see the Partner article in this newsletter for important news from ARPC: “Air Reserve Component Retirement Pay Applications Transition to myFSS”