Stopping Survivor Benefits Program

Generally SBP is an irrevocable decision. However, under limited circumstances, you may withdraw from SBP or change your coverage.
One-year Window Between 2nd and 3rd Anniversary Following First Receipt of Retired Pay

As an SBP participant you have a one-year window to terminate SBP coverage between the 2nd and 3rd anniversary following the date you begin to receive retired pay. None of the premiums you paid will be refunded and no annuity will be payable upon your death. Your covered spouse or former spouse must consent to the withdrawal. Termination is permanent and participation may not be resumed under any circumstance; i.e., future enrollment is barred.

Beneficiary is no Longer Eligible

Premiums stop when there is no longer an eligible beneficiary in a premium category, such as:
  • Children are all too old for benefits and are not incapable of self-support, or
  • A spouse is lost through death or divorce, or
  • An insurable interest person dies or coverage is terminated.
In the case of divorce, several choices may be available, see "Special Situations" for more information. SBP may be resumed under certain conditions. For example, adopting a child is a situation which may allow resumption of child coverage. See "Re-starting SBP" for more information.

VA Disability

If you have a service-connected disability that has been rated by the VA as totally disabling for ten or more continuous years, or if you have a total disability rating that has been held for not less than five continuous years from the last date of active duty, you may withdraw from SBP participation.

Withdrawal is allowed because your surviving spouse will qualify for DIC benefits. This is because your death will be presumed to be from service-connected reasons.

A request for withdrawal requires the written consent of your beneficiary. When you die, your surviving spouse will be entitled to a refund of all the SBP costs that were paid.

When you request withdrawal under these rules, DFAS must furnish you a written statement outlining the advantages and disadvantages of withdrawing. The change will not take effect until you confirm receipt of the information and acknowledge that you still wish to withdraw.

If, for some reason, the VA disability rating is withdrawn or reduced, SBP coverage may be resumed if you so desire. You must make the resumption request within one year after the VA rating has been withdrawn or reduced.

Federal Civil Service Retirement

If you qualify for Federal civilian retirement you may:
  • Waive military retirement pay and elect a combined retirement annuity and:
  1. Discontinue SBP in favor of the Civil Service Survivor Annuity program


  2. Keep SBP, decline the Civil Service Survivor Annuity program, and pay SBP costs directly to DFAS; or

  • Keep military retired pay and the civilian retirement annuity separate, retain the SBP as elected, and make any choice desired for the Civil Service Survivor Annuity program.

Insurable Interest


After retirement, insurable interest coverage may be changed to cover a newly acquired spouse and/or child within one year of the first marriage, birth, or adoption.


Since Oct. 5, 1994, insurable interest coverage for a beneficiary who is not a former spouse (prior to November 8, 1985, former spouses could only be covered as an insurable interest) may be voluntarily terminated at any time by submitting a signed written request. If you are interested in terminating your insurable interest coverage, contact DFAS or your personnel counselor.

Special situations (divorce, etc.)


If you have spouse coverage and later divorce and wish to continue SBP for your now former spouse, you must convert your SBP election from spouse coverage to former spouse coverage within one year of the divorce decree. To convert your SBP election to former spouse coverage you must notify DFAS in writing within one year of your divorce. Do this by submitting DD Form 2656-1 requesting the conversion of spouse coverage to former spouse coverage. Attach a copy of your divorce decree and settlement agreement. Premiums will be retroactive to the month following the date of the divorce decree, regardless of when the election is actually made. Many members erroneously assume coverage will continue for the former spouse if they simply continue paying the spouse SBP premiums.

If SBP has been ordered by the court, the former spouse (or the former spouse's attorney) should independently submit DD Form 2656-10 to DFAS requesting a deemed former spouse election. Attach a copy of the divorce decree and settlement agreement. This must be done within one year of the date of the divorce decree. The election will be deemed if the member fails to make the required election.

If you elect spouse coverage when you retire and later divorce, the coverage may be converted to former spouse coverage. Conversion may be required as part of your divorce agreement. In such case, you must notify DFAS by submitting DD Form 2656-1 within one year of your divorce. Include a copy of your divorce decree and settlement agreement. The former spouse should also notify DFAS by submitting DD Form 2656-10 within the same one-year period, including a copy of the divorce decree and settlement agreement. When the former spouse does this, the election will be "deemed" as made at the end of the 1-year period if you fail to make the election yourself. Converting to former spouse coverage may limit your ability to cover a new spouse if you remarry.

In converting to former spouse coverage, you may not increase your base amount. The court may not dictate a level of coverage greater than that elected before the divorce. Benefits will be suspended if the surviving former spouse remarries before age of 55. They will resume if that marriage ends as a result of death, divorce or annulment.

Former spouse coverage may be changed after retirement to cover a new spouse, or a new spouse and/or children if:

  1. The former spouse election was required by a court order and the retiree provides an acceptable certified court order permitting the change,


  2. The former spouse election was made to comply with an agreement that is not part of a court order and the former spouse agrees in writing to the requested change,


  3. The former spouse election was made voluntarily (not part of a court order or written agreement).

This change may be made at any time, provided the above requirements are met. The former spouse must be informed of the change in beneficiary.