Survivor Benefits Plan: How does it compare to insurance?


The Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP) was developed to meet the family's needs for continuous income protection following a retired member's death. SBP is a non-profit annuity program which the government administers. Coverage is free while the member remains on active duty. After retirement, monthly premiums are held in the Retirement System Trust Fund, and benefits are paid to eligible survivors from that fund. The monthly premium (cost) for spouse coverage is not based on a member's health or age. DFAS automatically deducts monthly premiums, and deducted premiums are pre-tax dollars. SBP is subsidized as the Federal government absorbs approximately 40% of the plan's cost, and the monthly SBP annuity is increased by cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs).   

Think of Survivor Benefits as retirement protection. It pays a benefit when the insured person's retirement pay stops. SBP won't make a single lump-sum payment like insurance. Instead, SBP will pay up to 55% (with annual inflation adjustments) of the military member's retirement pay to a spouse or dependent children every month.

The member pays 6.5% of their retirement pay for a spouse only, a few cents to a few dollars more when selecting spouse and children, and on average, it is less than $10 for the child option per month. The member's retired pay (for those who elect to participate) is automatically reduced by a monthly premium, alleviating the need to write a check or establish an allotment.

Payments are made for minimal 360 months AND until the retiree reaches 70 years of age. However, if a member passes away before meeting the 360 payments or before reaching 70 years of age, it doesn't matter, the premiums will stop, and the benefit begins one day after the retiree's death.

On the other hand, insurance premiums are based on the age and health of the insured person. Many insurance policies terminate when the insured reaches a predetermined age (e.g., 65, 70). Insurance premiums are paid using money that has already been taxed. Insured must take measures, so premiums are paid and kept up-to-date (e.g., write a check or establish an allotment). Policies are subject to cancellation due to the non-receipt of premiums. Finally, the value of insurance proceeds may be significantly reduced because of inflation, and the value may be further diminished if the policy is reduced at a certain age (e.g., 65, 70).

All active-duty members with approved retirements will attend a required face-to-face SBP briefing before their final out. Your spouse is also highly recommended to attend this briefing because the information received is necessary after you are no longer living.  

Take advantage of it!  Additional details are available by calling Malmstrom's SBP Counselor Victoria Plank at 731-2911

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.