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Frequently Asked Questions



When to Enroll

When you’ve completed the years of service required to qualify for retired pay through a non-regular retirement, you will be notified.  At that time, you can choose to participate in the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP). You have 90 days from receipt of the notice of eligibility to retire, to elect in writing, one of the three options available. Elections filed within the 90-day period are irrevocable unless revoked before the expiration of the 90-day period.

If you’re married or you have a dependent child when you receive your notice of eligibility for retirement, you will be automatically enrolled in RCSBP -- unless you choose not to participate within 90 days of the date of notification. Your spouse’s signature may be required.

If you choose not to participate in RCSBP, you remain eligible to participate at retirement age.

When you enroll, you must decide when you want your designated beneficiary’s benefit payments to begin. This option is called an immediate or deferred election.

Immediate or Deferred Election

You may choose to have your beneficiary’s annuity payments begin at one of the following times:

Retirement age: You can defer a survivor annuity election or decline coverage until you reach retirement age. If you die before reaching retirement age, then no survivor annuity is payable. Spousal concurrence is required.

Age 60: You can defer the survivor annuity until the date that would have been your 60th birthday or the day after your death, whichever is later. Spousal concurrence is required.

Date of death: If you elect an immediate survivor annuity, benefits begin on the day after your death, whether you die before or after retirement age.

How to Enroll

You will receive a letter from your reserve command as you approach retirement age. The letter should contain a Reserve Component SBP Election Certificate (form and instructions available on our Forms webpage). Complete the form and return it to the appropriate address on the back of the form.

NDAA 2023 SBP Open Season

For those looking for information regarding enrolling or discontinuing coverage during the 2023 SBP Open Season, we have a special focus webpage.
For retirees currently receiving retired pay, the SBP Open Season Discontinuance Form and FAQs surrounding discontinuing participation in the Plan are now available on our special focus webpage at   

DFAS is working to prepare the forms, policies and processes required for enrollment during this SBP Open Season. Please check our special focus webpage for the most up to date news and information:

Related Links:

RCSBP Overview
Stopping or Changing Coverage
Benefit Amount


Page last updated February 15, 2023