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Changing your SBP coverage from your former spouse to your current spouse

By Bill Hursh, Army Survivor Benefit Plan Program Manager

On Nov. 25, 2015 Congress passed a law that allows you to change your Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage from your former spouse to your current spouse after your former spouse’s death.

If either your former spouse’s death or your new marriage is after Nov. 24, 2015, there are three scenarios where you can change your former spouse SBP coverage to your new spouse after your former spouse’s death.

• If you were married when your former spouse died, and the death was after Nov. 24, 2015, you will have one year from the date of death to change your SBP election to your new spouse. The effective date of your spouse SBP coverage will be the first of the month after your former spouse’s date of death or the first of the month after the first anniversary of your new marriage, whichever is later.
• If your former spouse died after Nov. 24, 2015 and you marry again, you will have one year from the date of your new marriage to change your SBP coverage. The effective date of your spouse SBP coverage will be the first of the month after the first anniversary of your new marriage.
• If your spouse died before Nov. 25, 2015 and you married your new spouse after Nov. 24, 2015, you will have one year from the date of your new marriage to change your SBP coverage. The effective date of your spouse coverage will be the first of the month after the first anniversary of your new marriage.

Your request to change from former spouse to spouse coverage must be made in writing, signed, and submitted to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) within the above time frames. Your request must state you understand you will pay any retroactive SBP premiums from the effective date of the new spouse coverage. Copies of your former spouse’s death certificate and your current marriage certificate must be included with your request. You cannot reduce your previous level of SBP coverage. If you have made 360 SBP payments and are at least age 70, you will have no additional SBP premiums for your spouse coverage. You may not withdraw from the spouse SBP coverage once it is established.

Open Enrollment Period
If your former spouse died and you married your current spouse before Nov. 25, 2015, the law established an open enrollment period for you to transfer your SBP coverage from your former spouse to your current spouse. The effective date of your spouse SBP coverage and premiums will be the first of the month after the date of your former spouse’s death or the first of the month after the first anniversary of your current marriage, whichever is later. The Department of Defense (DOD) and DFAS are developing procedures and an open enrollment format that were not finalized as of the date of this publication. Contact your Retirement Services Officer (RSO) for information and the approved procedures and request format. The open enrollment period ends on Nov. 24, 2016. RSO contact information is available at the

RSO section of the Soldier for Life homepage at https://soldierforlife.army.mil/retirement/rso.