WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio –
A rare open season for the Survivor Benefit Plan began on Dec. 23, 2022, providing retirees who receive retired pay or former members who are unenrolled and awaiting retired pay the opportunity to enroll now.
The open season also allows enrolled retirees, Guard and Reserve members and "Gray Area" retirees to discontinue their coverage from the program prior to the close of the open season on Jan. 1, 2024.
In 1972, Congress met with spouses of military members who were requesting more decision power in their financial future. Congress agreed and established the SBP. The SBP gives retiring service members a way to provide a monthly income to their eligible spouses and/or children should they pass away after retirement.
The SBP benefit amount is a percentage of the retiree’s pay. The member’s election of full or reduced coverage will determine the percentage. The eligible beneficiary may receive up to 55 percent of a service member's retired pay upon the death of the member.
“Open season for SBP is very rare. There have been four since 1972, with the last one being in 2005,” said Bill Mayo Survivor’s Benefit Casualty Program Manager for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. “As a retiree, I know that when I pass, my military retirement pay will stop, and I wanted to ensure that my spouse receives financial support through the SBP program. As an SBP counselor for many years, I've seen the negative financial effects when SBP is not chosen and how it puts the spouse in a financially difficult situation.”
Military retirees who chose not to participate in the SBP program when they left military service will get a rare second chance to enroll thanks to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. Retirees who enroll during the open season will have to pay the premiums they missed since retiring as well as interest according to the new law. Current enrollees can choose to discontinue their coverage during the SBP open season with their spouse and covered beneficiary’s consent.
The Defense Finance Accounting Service is still working to prepare the forms, policies, and processes and will inform the SBP counselors when they can begin processing enrollments and disenrollments.
For more information about SBP open season, visit https://www.dfas.mil/RetiredMilitary/provide/sbp/SBP-Open-Season-NDAA2023/.