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Order of Precedence for Payment of Deceased Retirees

When military retirees die, their Arrears of Pay (any remaining retirement pay that is owed to them after their death) is paid to one of their survivors in the following order:

1. Designated beneficiary, if the retiree designates a beneficiary in writing prior to his or her death.

2. Surviving spouse

3. Children and their descendants, including the following:
a. Adopted Child: An adopted child is a legal heir in every state and, therefore, is entitled to payment of unpaid pay and allowances, if otherwise proper. If the deceased retiree's child is adopted by others, the child is a beneficiary only in those states where an adopted child inherits from its natural father;
b. Stepchild: A stepchild is not an eligible beneficiary, unless adopted by the deceased retiree; and
c. Illegitimate Child: An illegitimate child may not be paid unpaid pay and allowances of a deceased retiree, unless that child is recognized for inheritance purposes under the laws of the jurisdiction involved.
4. Father and mother in equal parts or, if either is dead, the survivor;

5. Legal representative; and

6. Person entitled under the law of the deceased retiree's domicile (usually the state where the retiree permanently resided).


Related Links:

Arrears of Pay Overview
Designate an AOP Beneficiary
Manage Your Beneficiary Designation

What Happens When You Die?


Page last updated February 17, 2023