Retirees have two pay programs with their pay agency that have unique beneficiaries (By “pay agencies,” I mean the Defense Finance and Accounting Service for military types and the Coast Guard for USCG, NOAA, and USPHS folks).
First is your Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). The SBP beneficiary is not a named individual as it is with an insurance policy. Rather, the beneficiary is a category like “spouse” or “former spouse.”
Virtually all SBP beneficiary changes are due to divorce situations — the touchiest kind of beneficiary concern. The SBP beneficiary cannot be changed because of personal desire.
[MOAA WEBINAR: Remarriage, Divorce, and Your Benefits]
The other pay program for retirees with beneficiaries is the Arrears of Pay (AOP). AOP is the residual retired pay in the month of a retiree’s death. This is totally different from the SBP beneficiary. With AOP, you name specific individuals and can change the beneficiaries as you wish. You also can name primary and contingent beneficiaries.
Check your beneficiary statuses on your retiree account statement — the retiree pay stub, so to speak. Work with your pay agency online or by direct contact to change beneficiaries. While you’re at it, check your beneficiary status on all insurance policies and retirement accounts. You might want to ensure any and all other assets are also going to the right person upon your death.
You won’t be around to see the negative results when your assets go to the wrong people. It’s not pretty, and you won’t be held in high regard.