Veteran Services: Finance Questions

Finances

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Questions & Answers

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Financial Questions & Answers

Question:

My family was under the impression that our mother would still receive retirement benefits after our father died, but the Air Force said a certain form was not signed in time. Could you please clarify what form was not signed? – Devonna

Answer:

I don’t think it’s exactly a lack of paperwork – it sounds more like your father did not sign up for the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) when he retired. SBP has been available to protect the spouses and families of retired servicemembers since 1972. By electing coverage on all or part of their retired pay, retiring servicemembers are able to ensure that their surviving spouse receives 55 percent of the covered amount at their death. I’m a big proponent of the program. For most folks, it makes a lot of sense to provide their spouse with an inflation-adjusted stream of income that is nearly impossible to duplicate with life insurance (at the same cost). However, sometimes retirees are put off by the 6.5 percent cost of the program. I make sure they understand that this cost is paid on a pretax basis, and that recent legislation allows these premiums to stop after they have been paid for 30 years and the retiree is at least 70. You should be able to look at your father’s retirement-pay stubs to see if he was paying the premium, but it doesn’t sound like that was the case. I hope this information helps your investigation, while helping others make a good decision!.