I married my husband after he retired from the military. I signed up for survivor benefits and have been making the payments for eight years. We have thought of getting a larger life-insurance policy and canceling my survivor benefits. Can we? – Kellie


What do you want first: the good news or, well, the bad? Let’s get (what you will consider) the bad news out of the way first: you’re probably stuck with the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). There is a window, between the 25th and the 36th month following receipt of retired pay, to terminate the coverage; otherwise, the decision is permanent (barring a death or divorce). The government has rules, you know. Personally, I really don’t think it’s bad news. I believe SBP is the deal of the century and a great benefit of military service. It’s a cost-effective way to ensure you have a reliable income stream should something happen to your husband. From a cost perspective, it’s hard to beat. Paid for with pretax money, it provides a cost-of-living-adjusted lifetime benefit. It’s hard to duplicate – even with life insurance. Rather than cancelling SBP, I’d suggest that you visit the VA website ( or and use a life-insurance calculator to determine if you need to supplement your SBP with a commercial life-insurance policy.