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The Survivor Benefit Plan 2023 Active Duty/Line of Duty Optional Annuity for Dependent Children Elimination/Annuity Reversion to Surviving Spouses


The SBP-DIC Offset Phased Elimination, set out in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, repealed the authority for the Optional Annuity for Dependent Children for Active Duty/Line of Duty survivors as of January 1, 2023.

This means for the surviving spouse of an Active Duty/Line of Duty member who requested to have the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity paid directly to an eligible dependent child or children, the annuity will revert to the surviving spouse in 2023 (if she or he submits documentation and is eligible) .

We developed this special webpage to provide news and information regarding the repeal of the optional child annuity and the transition. We will post updates on this webpage, so please plan to check it for news and information.
 
What You Need to Do

You do not need to contact DFAS at this time to notify us that you are impacted by the SBP-DIC Offset Phased Elimination or the reversion of the Optional Annuity for Dependent Children in 2023. DoD, DFAS, and the military services are working together to facilitate a smooth transition.
 
Please watch for an eligibility packet in your mail that will arrive late in 2021. This packet will include the documents we need you to fill out and return. The documents will help us determine your eligibility for SBP annuity payments and set up your account to begin your payments (if you are eligible) when the changes take effect on January 1, 2023.
 
If you remarried after the death of the member (before age 55), you may not be eligible for the SBP annuity. We must receive a reply from you, even if you believe you may not be eligible due to remarriage. If we have the documentation to make a determination that you are not eligible, we can continue to pay the annuity to an eligible child, even after January of 2023. However, if we do not receive documentation allowing us to confirm you are not eligible, the child annuity payments must be suspended as of January 2023 until we receive the documentation.
 
What is the “Optional Child Annuity?”

The Department of Defense Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) provides financial support to military spouses and/or children when a military member dies on active duty or inactive duty in the line of duty. The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) provides eligible beneficiaries with a monthly payment known as an annuity. The recipient of an SBP annuity is referred to as the annuitant. The annuitant may be a surviving spouse or surviving child (but not both).
 
When a service member dies on active or inactive duty in the line of duty, the surviving spouse can request to have the SBP annuity paid directly to an eligible dependent child or children. This is called the “Optional Annuity for Dependent Children” but often referred to as “the optional child annuity.”
 
The option is available because until recently, there was a requirement for a spouse’s SBP payments to be offset (reduced) by the full amount of the spouse’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payment from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Payments to the surviving child were often considered a more favorable option because SBP paid to a child is not required to be offset (reduced) by the DIC payment.
 
The Optional Annuity for Dependent Children is only allowed when the service member died on active or inactive duty, in the line of duty, after October 7, 2001.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 modified the law that requires an offset (reduction) of SBP payments for surviving spouses who are also entitled to DIC payments from the VA. It directed a phase-out period that will eventually eliminate the entire offset (reduction). Beginning on January 1, 2023, surviving spouses can receive full SBP payments from DoD/DFAS in addition to their full DIC payments from the VA.  
 
The NDAA for Fiscal Year 2020 also directed that as of January 1, 2023, the “Optional Annuity for Dependent Children” will be eliminated and the SBP annuity payment must revert to the surviving spouse (if the surviving spouse submits documentation confirming eligibility).

What Will Happen in 2023

SBP annuities that were directed to a child rather than a surviving spouse will revert to the surviving spouse (if she or he submits documentation and is eligible) as of January 1, 2023.

Keep in mind that 2023 is the third and final phase of the SBP-DIC Offset Phased Elimination. Beginning January 1 of 2023, the offset is eliminated, so spouses will receive their full DIC payment from the VA and the full SBP payment issued by DFAS (see our SBP-DIC News webpage).

If you remarried after the death of the member (before age 55), you may not be eligible for the SBP annuity. We must receive documentation from you, even if you believe you may not be eligible due to remarriage. If we have the documentation to make a determination that you are not eligible, we can continue to pay the annuity to an eligible child, even after January of 2023. However, if we do not receive documentation allowing us to confirm you are not eligible, the child annuity payments must be suspended as of January 2023 until we receive the documentation. 
 
What Happens Between Now and 2023

If your child or children are the designated SBP beneficiaries because you selected the Optional Annuity for Dependent Children, they will continue to receive the SBP payments (if they are eligible) until the SBP-DIC offset is fully eliminated in January of 2023.

If your child or children lose eligibility because they marry or reach age 18 (or age 22 if a full-time student) prior to January 1, 2023, the annuity will be suspended until January 1, 2023, at which time it will revert to you.
 
Additional Information
 
The repeal of the Optional Annuity for Dependent Children , and the reversion of the annuity to the surviving spouse is mandated by the law, so it is not voluntary.
 




 
Page Updated Sept 29, 2021