Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

Military pay, including active duty pay and allowances and retired pay, stops upon an Airman’s death. The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) is a program through which the Department of Defense provides monthly, cost-of-living-adjusted income to eligible survivors of Service members who die on Active Duty in the line of duty, including Reserve and Air National Guard Service members who die on Federal Active Duty in the line of duty and Retired Airmen who choose to continue participating in the program after they retire.

Airmen who retire due to a service-connected disability incurred while on active duty, whether Regular or Reserve, may participate in SBP.

Reserve and Air National Guard Service members may participate in the Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP) when they complete 20 years of qualifying service for non-regular retirement.

The following table illustrates which program applies to whom, depending on one's duty status and retirement eligibility:

Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Eligibility

Regular Air Force on active duty

SBP. Benefits calculated as if retired with 100% disability. Death must be in Line of Duty unless retirement-eligible. If retirement eligible and found not In Line of Duty, benefits based on years of active service. SBP coverage provided at no cost and beneficiaries determined by law.

Regular Air Force retired

SBP, if they enroll upon retirement. Line of Duty determination not applicable. If coverage elected must choose SBP beneficiary category and pay part of the coverage cost.

Reserve and Air National Guard Service members in non-drilling status with less than 20 years of service who die in a non-duty status

No SBP or RCSBP.

Reserve and Air National Guard Service members on Inactive Duty Training

RCSBP. Benefits calculated as if retired with 100% disability. Death must be in Line of Duty. If retirement eligible and found not In Line of Duty, benefits based on what retired pay would have been calculated as a non-regular retirement. Coverage provided at no cost if found in the LOD and beneficiaries determined by law.

Reserve and Air National Guard Service members on Federal Active Duty, regardless of years of service

SBP. Benefits calculated as if retired with 100% disability. Death must be in Line of Duty. If retirement eligible and found not In Line of Duty, benefits based on years of active service. SBP coverage provided at no cost and beneficiaries determined by law. If retirement eligibility based on 20 creditable years toward non-regular retirement and found not in LOD, RCSBP coverage applied with beneficiaries determined by law.

Reserve and Air National Guard Service members in non-drilling status with at least 20 years of service

RCSBP. Only if they enrolled with Option B or Option C when they received 20-Year Letter; or received the 20 year letter, are within the 90 day period, but have not made an RCSBP election; or should have received a 20 year letter. Death does not need to be in Line of Duty.

Reserve and Air National Guard Service members at age 60 who had enrolled in RCSBP with Options B or C

At age 60 RCSBP for non-regular Reserve Retired Airmen becomes SBP. Line of Duty determination not applicable. Must pay RCSBP premiums at non-regular retirement.

Reserve and Air National Guard Service members at age 60 who had not enrolled in RCSBP (elected Option A)

SBP. Only if they enroll in SBP upon receipt of retired pay. Line of Duty determination not applicable. Must pay SBP premiums if SBP coverage elected.

Reserve and Air National Guard Service members over age 60 who had not enrolled in either RCSBP or SBP

No SBP or RCSBP. Retired pay stops at the death of the Service member.

SBP premiums are deducted from retired pay and since April of 2018, DFAS will deduct SBP premiums from Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) when retired pay is not sufficient to cover the full amount of the premiums. This deduction is due to a change in the law which requires DFAS to deduct SBP premiums from CRSC. Click here for more information.

Phase-Out of the SBP-DIC Offset:
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 modified the law that requires an offset of Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments for Surviving Spouses who are also entitled to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Under the previous law, a Surviving Spouse who receives DIC is subject to a dollar-for-dollar reduction of SBP payments, which can result in SBP being either partially or fully offset. The repeal phases in the reduction of this offset and started on January 1, 2021 and culminating with elimination of the offset in its entirety on January 1, 2023. Some survivors who are subject to the “SBP-DIC Offset” saw a change in their SBP annuity payments on February 1, 2021, while others will not until February 1, 2022 or later.

For more information on the Phase-Out of the SBP-DIC Offset, please visit: https://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/survivors/SBP-DIC-News