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Frequently Asked Questions


The Survivor Benefit Plan cost depends on the level of coverage you choose. SBP coverage is supplied at no cost while you are in active service.  During your retirement, however, a monthly deduction is taken from your pay to pay for your SBP coverage. This can be no more than 6.5 percent of your gross retired pay. Review the coverage levels below.

Coverage Levels

FullIf you elect full coverage, the cost of SBP coverage will be based on your full gross pay.  For example, if you receive $1,000 of retired pay each month, and elect full SBP coverage, your monthly cost to cover your spouse under the plan will be $65 each month.


You can also elect a lower level of SBP coverage.  For example, if you receive $1,000 of retired pay each month, you can elect to have your coverage based only on $700 of your pay.  In this case, we would calculate 6.5 percent of $700, and the monthly cost to cover a spouse under SBP would be $45.50.  There is, however, a minimum level of coverage required and that the amount is unique to each retiree.


If you submit an invalid election at retirement, or none at all, one will be started automatically.  The cost of such coverage will be based on gross retired pay and be equal to the cost of a Spouse Only election.

Examples of invalid elections are:

  • Non-receipt of a DD 2656 form
  • DD 2656 forms signed and/or submitted after retirement
  • Declining coverage, or electing any level of coverage lesser than Full Spouse coverage, without a spouse's concurring, notarized signature

  • Spouse signing election prior to the member's signature

If we find out later on that you have an eligible spouse and children, the children will be retroactively added to the account and the additional cost for children will be deducted from your pay.

Similarly, if we establish an automatic election and learn later that you have no eligible beneficiaries, we will cancel the election and refund any costs paid.

Learn more about SBP

  • Advantages & disadvantages - Things to consider before enrolling
  • Enroll - How to set up your SBP account
  • Eligible beneficiaries - Find out who can be covered 
  • Paying for SBP - How you can pay
  • Update beneficiary - How to update beneficiaries or update contact information
  • Change or stop coverage - When you can change coverage or beneficiary 
  • Educate your beneficiaries - What your beneficiary needs to know
  • What happens when you die - Next steps for your beneficiary

Read about these topics at SBP overview

Page updated March 20, 2015