Survivor Benefit and Arrears of Pay Frequently Asked Questions

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Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Arrears of Pay Frequently Asked Questions

Child Annuitant’s School Certification for SBP

The Child Annuitant’s School Certification (DD Form 2788)  confirms a child annuitant’s full-time attendance in school and intent to continue full-time schooling after the age of 18.

DFAS sends a Child Annuitant’s School Certification:

  1. Four months prior to the child annuitant’s 18th birthday and,
  2. Whenever a school term is scheduled to end, if a child annuitant is over the age of 18 and continues to receive an SBP annuity payment because they are in school full-time

          Below are the answers to the frequently asked questions we receive regarding the Child Annuitant’s School Certification form.

          There is also a supplemental instruction sheet available on the Forms page which provides instructions on how to fill out the school certification form.


Q. How often do I need to send a Child Annuitant’s School Certification?

A. A school certification (DD Form 2788) must be sent:

(1) When a child annuitant turns 18 years old, and

(2) At the end of each school term/semester if a child annuitant is over the age of 18 and continues to receive an SBP annuity payment because they are in school full-time, and the child is not incapacitated/incapable of self-support


Q. When do I send the school certification during the school year?

A. The Child Annuitant’s School Certification (DD Form 2788) should be sent no earlier than 30 days prior to the end of the school term/semester and received by DFAS no later than the last day of the school term/semester.


Q. If I don’t get a Child Annuitant’s School Certification (DD Form 2788) form in the mail, does that mean I don’t need to send one?

A. Not necessarily. If a child annuitant is over the age of 18 and continues to receive an SBP annuity payment because they are in school full-time, a school certification (DD Form 2788) must be sent for each school term/semester.


Q. Do I need to send a school certification for a term/semester when I was not in school full-time, if it was during the allowed 150-day break?

A. Yes, a Child Annuitant’s School Certification should be sent for each school term/semester, even for a school term/semester that ends during the allowed 150-day interval period when a child annuitant may take a break (e.g., summer term) from full-time schooling.

If the child is not currently attending school, but intends to return to school full-time within the allowed 150-day interval period, Section IV of the certification form should be filled out and signed by a school official from the school that the child annuitant attended most recently.

For example, if a child attended school full-time during the spring term of a college but does not attend during the summer term, Section IV of the school certification form should be filled out and signed by an official from the school where the child attended during the spring term (and the form should be received by DFAS in the period between 30 days prior to the end of the summer term/semester and the last day of the summer term/semester).


Q. When should I fill out and sign the Child Annuitant’s School Certification form?

A. The school certification form should be filled out, signed, and dated by the child annuitant no earlier than 30 days prior to the end of the term/semester date on the form.

The school official should fill out Section III or IV of the form and sign after the student fills out and signs Section I and Second II, but no earlier than 30 days prior to the end of the term/semester date on the form.


Q. What dates do I put on the school certification where it says “Date Term/Semester Began” and “Date Term/Semester Ended”?

A. The “Date Term/Semester Began” and the “Date Term/Semester Ended” are the official start and end dates the school publishes in their academic calendar. The dates should be entered in the YYYMMDD format (e.g., 20180915 for September 15, 2018)

If you fill out the school certification late (after the term/semester ends), use the official dates from the academic calendar for the appropriate school term/semester, even if it has ended.


Q. What dates do I put on the school certification where it says “Date Term/Semester Will Begin” and “Date Term/Semester Will End”?

A. The “Date Term/Semester Will Begin” and the “Date Term/Semester Will End” are the official start and end dates the school publishes in their academic calendar.

When you fill out the form, use the dates of the next term/semester you will attend full-time (during the next 150 days).

For example, if you fill out the form during the last 30 days of the fall term, and the next term you will attend full-time is the winter term, use the official start and end dates of the winter term. Or, if you fill out the form during the last 30 days of the spring term, and the next term you will attend is the fall term, use the official start and end dates of the upcoming fall term.


Q. Who is the school official that should fill out and sign the Child Annuitant’s School Certification (DD Form 2788) form?

A. The school official is a person employed by the school that can certify the child annuitant attended school full-time during the term/semester on the form.

The school official should fill out Section III or IV of the form and sign after the student fills out and signs Section I and Second II, but no earlier than 30 days prior to the end of the term/semester.

If the child annuitant’s school participates in the National Student Clearinghouse you may download and attach a copy of the student’s verification of enrollment from the National Student Clearinghouse instead of having a school official fill out Section III or IV and sign the form. This verification should not be downloaded more than 30 days prior to the end of the term/semester.


Q. What if DFAS does not receive my Child Annuitant’s School Certification (DD Form 2788)?

A. To receive continuing SBP funds, a child annuitant who is over 18 and attending school must submit a Child Annuitant's School Certification (DD 2788) form, certifying their full-time attendance in school during the term. If the school certification for a child annuitant over the age of 18 is not received by the last day of the school term, the child annuitant’s account is suspended and the portion of the funds due the annuitant are held until a valid school certification form is received (or until the child annuitant is otherwise proven eligible or ineligible).

Please see our “Manage your SBP Annuity” page for more information.


Initial Annuity Packet and SF 1174
(Claim for Unpaid Compensation of Deceased Member of the Uniformed Service)

Dealing with the death of a loved one can be very difficult.  Therefore, DFAS created this guide to assist you with claiming the Survivor Benefit Plan and/or any unpaid compensation.  Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding the Annuity Packet and the SF 1174 (Claim for Unpaid Compensation of Deceased Member of the Uniformed Service).


SF 1174
(Claim for Unpaid Compensation of Deceased Member of the Uniformed Service)

Q: Who is the claimant?

A: The person (or persons) who are entitled to the funds.

Q: Whose information is required in parts A7 through A10?

A: The deceased military member or deceased Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuitant’s information should appear under A7 through A10, as applicable.

Q: What is the Decedent’s domicile (A10)?

A: The state in which the military member or annuitant resided prior to passing away.

Q: Is Part C required?

A: If you are the widow(er) or the designated beneficiary and your information is in Part A, do not fill out Part C.  If you are NOT the widow(er) or the designated beneficiary, fill out Part C with all requested information. Each claimant needs to complete an SF 1174.

Q: What if I am the executor and the decedent’s child?

A: If you are the executor and the decedent’s child, complete Part C and Part D. The executor must be court-ordered and provide the EIN tax ID number. Appointment of an executor through the will is not the same. The completed SF 1174 application include a copy of the court documents appointing the executor (Letters of Testamentary, Letters Appointing Representative of Estate of Executor).

Q: Do I need to fil out Part E?

A: Part E should only be completed if the claimant is not the designated beneficiary, spouse, child or grandchild, parent or legal representative.

Q: Do I need to sign the form?

A: All those who are claiming arrears must complete the signature block(s) in full. If there are more than 2 persons claiming arrears, then additional SF 1174 forms need to be submitted.

Q: Do the witnesses have to be Notaries or Public Officials?

A: No, the witnesses can be anyone who is a disinterested party. There must be two witness signatures, even if there is only one applicant completing the form.


DD 2656-7 
(Verification for Survivor Annuity)

Q: What type of benefit am I claiming under 2g?

A: Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

Q: Part 3c asks if I am receiving an annuity from any other deceased military retiree. Does that refer to my current spouse?

A: No.  If you are currently receiving any payment from another retired military member, then you should fill out this section.

Q: On the top of the second page it is asking for the Deceased Member’s name and social security number. Do I have to fill this out again?

A: Yes, to ensure proper identification of all pages of the document.

Q: Do I need to fill out Part 6?

 A: If you are a spouse applicant and you have applied for, or intend to apply for benefits though the VA, you must fill out Part 6.


FMS 2231 
(Fast Start Direct Deposit)

Q: What is the Employee Payroll Identification Number?

A: The annuitant’s social security number.

Q: Whose name do I put for employee name?

A: The annuitant’s name (Last name, first name, middle initial/s).

Q: What type of account do I choose?

A: If the account information in Part 3 is a checking account, choose checking. If the account information in Part 3 is a savings account, choose savings.

Q: What type of payment do I choose?

A: It is net pay.

Q: What is the account title?

A: The annuitant’s name or, in the case of a child or incapacitated person, the representative payee’s name.

Q: What is an allotment, and what do I put for Part 4?

A: Do not fill out Part 4. We no longer process allotments for annuitants.

Q: Part 5 request the employee’s signature. Who should sign?

A: The annuitant or the representative payee should sign and date.


IRS W-4P
(IRS Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments)

Please contact the IRS or a certified tax preparer for information or assistance with completing this form. If an IRS Form W4-P is not received, the default tax status that will be entered is married with 3 allowances.

There are additional forms required for a child account or an incapacitated child account:

  1. If the child is a minor, a DD Form 2790 (Custodianship of a Minor Child) is required.
  2. A DD Form 2828 (Physician Certificate for Child Annuitant) is required for an incapacitated child account.
  3. If the child is over the age of 18, court-ordered guardianship paperwork is required for an incapacitated child account.

All of the forms described in this guide can be found in the forms section or by clicking here.

Page last modified on December 16, 2018