The Survivor Benefit Program is administered by your pay agent. See the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) for the military services, the USCG Retiree and Annuitant Services Branch, NOAA shares the Coast Guard program but can be viewed at the NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center and PHS officers see the PHS Survivors Guide and Pamphlet 24 on Retirement.
There is no more Social Security Offset (SSO) for Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuitants. Since April 2008 all survivors receive the full 55 percent of their late military retiree's pay covered by SBP.
It is important to keep in mind however that the Veterans Affairs (VA) Dependent Indemnity Compensation (DIC) survivor annuity continues to offset military SBP dollar for dollar. In other words, if you receive DIC, you have to subtract the full amount of DIC from your SBP payment. Because DIC is a tax-free payment and SBP is taxed, DIC tends to be a better benefit. Survivors who are denied SBP payments due to DIC are refunded the premium payments made by the military member. A 2008 law established the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance which is designed to reimburse survivors some of the money they are denied by the DIC offset. Survivors will be paid an additional $50 a month in 2009 and the amount increases at $10 a month over the next 5 years. This 5-year program was extended through 2017 with a maximum benefit amount raised to $310. MOAA continues to fight for the total elimination of the DIC offset.
The VA publishes "A Survivors Guide to Benefits" to help families dealing with the loss of their servicemember. Once you click on the title, give the pamphlet time to download as a pdf document.
If you are approaching military retirement and are puzzling over your SBP decision, you may find it helpful to read MOAA's Survivor Benefit Plan: Security for Your Survivors.
If you already are retired and have questions about SBP coverage, consult MOAA's Survivor Benefit Plan - Security for your Survivors. For information about RCSBP, Guard and Reserve officers may wish to check out Military Entitlements - Benefits for Guard & Reserve.
Besides the above booklets, MOAA has a full complement of booklets to prepare for military burials and provide assistance to survivors and their families at our MOAA Info Exchange® web site.
These publications are free to MOAA PREMIUM and LIFE members. MOAA's Benefits Information Department assists MOAA PREMIUM and LIFE members who have questions about SBP, RCSBP, and the Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan (RSFPP). You can contact the Benefits Information Department through MOAA's Member Service Center at (800) 234-6622 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, or by e-mail at BenInfo@moaa.org.