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Frequently Asked Questions

The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) provides financial support to military spouses and/or children when a military member dies while on duty or after retirement.

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 amount of the SBP benefit is a percentage of retired pay. The percentage depends upon whether the member chooses full or reduced coverage at the time of election (generally at retirement or at 20-year qualification). SBP provides up to 55 percent of a service member's retired pay to an eligible beneficiary upon the death of the member.

After the service member passes away, the SBP annuity is paid out monthly to the surviving spouse, or to the child or children of the member.

Check Out Our New Survivor SBP Newsletter - December Issue Now Online! 

DFAS has a new Survivor SBP Newsletter! Check out the December issue, with a special article for surviving spouses who lost a loved one in the line of duty and chose the SBP Optional Annuity for Dependent Children, helpful information about the second phase of the SBP-DIC Offset Phased Elimination, tips to make tax season easier, news about our initiative to provide online upload tools and status notifications, and more! We also have a downloadable PDF of the newsletter you can share with other survivors. Get it here:  


Please see our  SBP-DIC News webpage for details and Frequently Asked Questions about the SBP-DIC Offset Phased Elimination

Please see our  new, special focus webpage for Active Duty/Line of Duty survivors who requested the SBP optional child annuity.


SBP for Spouses and DIC Benefits from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA)

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monetary benefit offered by the VA to survivors of service members and retirees whose death results from a service-related injury or disease. 

Spouse SBP annuitants, except for those who remarry after age 55 (or in other specific circumstances), cannot receive full SBP and DIC at the same time before 2023.  Beginning in 2021, there are significant changes to the offset of SBP and DIC.

Please note: DIC payments made directly to children, or to a guardian on behalf of children, do not affect SBP child annuity payments.

In 2022, when DFAS is informed by the VA that a spouse annuitant is receiving DIC, the law requires that DFAS deduct one-third of the amount of DIC received from the amount of SBP payable and pay the remaining amount of the SBP to the annuitant. This is called the SBP/DIC offset.
*The reduction of the SBP-DIC offset from the full amount of DIC to one-third of DIC is effective January 1, 2022. 

For example, in 2022, if an annuitant receives a monthly SBP annuity of $1200 from DFAS and receives a monthly DIC award of $1500 from the VA, DFAS will deduct one-third of the amount of DIC ($500) from the $1200 SBP and pay the remaining $700 to the annuitant. The annuitant will continue receive the full amount of DIC from the VA (in this example $1500). 

On January 1, 2023, the offset will be completely eliminated. Eligible surviving spouses will receive their full SBP payments AND their full DIC payments. 

Please note the change in the law DOES NOT affect DIC payments, it only affects SBP payments when the surviving spouse is also receiving DIC. Please see our SBP-DIC news webpage for details and FAQs. 

When a spouse is eligible to receive SBP and DIC, and those payments are subject to the SBP/DIC offset, the spouse will also receive the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA).

The Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA)

The Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) is a benefit for surviving spouses who receive a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity that is offset by a Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payment from the VA.

In 2022, SSIA will be paid at up to $346 per month. Eligible survivors will continue to receive the Special Survivors Indemnity Allowance (SSIA), up to the maximum amount per month, or up to the gross amount of SBP (if the gross amount of SBP is less than the maximum amount) until December 31, 2022. SSIA will NOT be paid in 2023. 

SSIA is not used to repay past due SBP premiums. If the spouse annuitant is entitled to SSIA, we will pay the SSIA, even when there are past due premiums.

DIC payments to children do not affect SBP child annuitant payments, so child annuitants are not eligible to receive SSIA.

How Remarriage May Impact a Spouse SBP Annuity

Surviving spouses maintain their eligibility for SBP until death, as long as they do not remarry before the age of 55. If the annuitant remarries before age 55, annuity payments will stop.

However, if the marriage of an annuitant (who remarried before age 55) later ends for any reason, their eligibility for the annuity is reinstated, effective on the first day of the month the marriage ends. The annuity payments will be restarted, once DFAS has received and processed the notification and documents. See more information at:

If DIC payments stop and the spouse's SBP payment was previously reduced or eliminated because of DIC, the full SBP payment may resume. 

Spouse annuitants who remarry after age 55 are entitled to receive full SBP and DIC benefits at the same time. This is the result of a 2009 court** decision. According to the ruling, DFAS is not required to offset DIC payments from a monthly SBP annuity if a spouse is entitled to both benefits and has remarried after age 55.

How to Notify DFAS of a Change in Marital Status

Annuitants are responsible for notifying DFAS of any changes to their marital status.

To notify us of a remarriage prior to age 55, please complete the following form and mail or fax it with a copy of your marriage certificate to DFAS U.S. Military Annuitant Pay:

1. COE (Annuitant Certificate of Eligibility)

To notify us of a remarriage after age 55, please complete the following forms and mail or fax to DFAS U.S. Military Annuitant Pay:

1. DD 2656-7 (Verification for Survivor Annuity)

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

3. Direct Deposit start-up form 

To notify us of a marriage termination to restart an SBP annuity, please complete the following forms and mail or fax to DFAS U.S. Military Annuitant Pay:

1. DD 2656-7 (Verification for Survivor Annuity)

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

3. Direct Deposit start-up form

What initiates the SBP benefit and what does a beneficiary have to do?

The designated SBP beneficiary becomes eligible to receive SBP benefits on the day after a service member’s death. The first step a beneficiary must take to initiate SBP benefits is to report the death. Please visit our Reporting a Death page for step-by-step instructions.

**2009 U.S. Court of Appeals decision in the matter of Sharp, v. the United States
Note: The information on this website is provided to explain typical situations regarding retiree and annuitant benefits. For details and exceptions, please see applicable laws, financial management regulations, and instructions.

Page updated on Dec 23, 2021