Survivor Benefit Plan

Survivor benefits refer to the benefit that can be paid to the selected beneficiary following the death of the employee. This type of benefit is available in the context of a military pension plan. A survivor benefit is a marital asset that should be addressed in the context of a divorce. It is a separate asset than the pension itself such that a spouse could receive a portion of the actual pension as well as the survivor benefit. The participant spouse must elect a survivor benefit plan at the time of retirement. This is because there is a cost for the survivor benefit plan which is paid through a reduction of the base amount for the benefit. Presently, there is a cost of 6.5% the base pay to elect a survivor benefit plan.

The benefit payable to the survivor is 55% of the base amount of the participant’s retired pay for the lifetime of the survivor. The survivor benefit is non-divisible. This is important to keep in mind if the service member has been married more than once since a former spouse and a current spouse cannot both receive the benefit. If a former spouse is to receive the benefit, they should submit an application within one year of the divorce. If a former spouse dies before the service member, there is an automatic reversion of their survivor benefits to the military member.