Survivor Benefit Plan Resources: Everything You Need in One Blog Post

This blog post has one purpose:  to point you to every website with the Survivor Benefit Plan resources.  It might be very long, with a lot of links, but I will do my best to organize this content in a way that makes sense.  It might not contain everything on the web, and that’s where I need your help.  If there’s something online that you know of, but isn’t on this post, please leave me a comment.  I’ll make sure to update this post regularly with content as I find it, or as you direct me to it.  There are affiliate links, from which I might make a small modicum of profit (I’ll be lucky if I get to pay the bills on maintaining the website with my bounty).  Let’s begin!

Survivor Benefit Plan Resources:  DFAS

I’ll start with the DFAS website.  It’s confusing, and you might not be able to put everything together just by looking at it.  However, the DFAS website should be your first stop so that you can familiarize you with SBP.  There’s also an SBP guide book that you can download from the DFAS website.

Survivor Benefit Plan Resources: DoD & Service Instruction Links

While DFAS manages SBP, there is a DOD policy which helps to establish the rules.  Additionally, each service has its own SBP instruction.

If you can’t find what you need from the DFAS or the service websites, below are some books, blogs, and online calculators that can help you put together a plan for your SBP benefits.

Survivor Benefit Plan Resources:  Books

There aren’t a whole lot in the way of books about SBP.  That’s one of the reasons that I decided to write one myself.  Below are some details on my book as well as a few of the books that I’ve found on Amazon:

Military in Transition’s Guide to the Survivor Benefit Plan  What can I say?  This is a shameless plug for my book, but I did write a book because I did not think there were enough resources out there.  I think the best thing about this book is that it brings a personal touch to one of the toughest, and most lasting decisions that a military family has to make upon retiring from service.  I hope you enjoy it, but if you choose to skip it, below is my ‘competition.’

Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) (Active, Guard, Reserve, and Retired).  This publication is published by the US Air Force ePublishing Library.  The rest of the Amazon description seems to be a boiler plate description of the ePublishing Library, so I’ll fill in the gaps with what I know (not that much).  I don’t know much about this book, but the Air Force has published a lot of ebooks, and this book might be all right.  However, my first impression from Amazon is that this book isn’t going to be much more beneficial than going to the SBP website.  Any book description that is actually a 2-paragraph advertisement for the Air Force’s publishing office (I was surprised they have one, and even more surprised to find out they published ebooks…I thought we were in sequestration), is probably not going to bode well for the book.

Well, that’s it for books.  I know there are books that contain SBP as a part of a broader, overall list of veterans’ and retirement benefits, but these are the books that I have found that focus primarily on SBP.  If there is a book that you feel does cover SBP to a greater extent than one of these books, please feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll update this post accordingly.

Survivor Benefit Plan Resources:  Blog Posts

There are several blogs out there that discuss SBP, but not many.  I’ll post the posts that I’ve seen, but please feel free to put links in the comments section, and I’ll update this as often as I need to.

Military in Transition

Of course, I’m going to start off with my own blog.  But with good reason.  I’ve posted a couple of articles, meant to be read in sequence, that discuss SBP, its benefits, and when it might (or might not) be good for you.

By the time I finished the third of these articles, I realized I had enough information and material to turn it into an ebook.  However, each of these articles stands on its own, and provides several different viewpoints on the SBP decision.

The Military Guide  There are several articles written by Doug Nordman about SBP, which cover SBP for both active and reserve components.

The Military Wallet  Ryan Guina has written military personal finance articles for almost a decade, and has several articles which focus on survivor plans for reserve and guard members.

Understanding the Survivor Benefit Plan  This is a neat article that I found on page 3 of Google search results.  It’s written by a Tampa divorce attorney (or so the name “Tampa Military Divorce Attorneys” would suggest), and briefly discusses the impacts of divorce upon SBP eligibility.  Worthwhile read if this is something you might be looking at.

Paycheck Chronicles  This site, managed by Kate Horrell, does a great job of putting out updates on issues as they come out.  Stay tuned to this site to keep apprised of issues such as, SBP-Dependency & Indemnity Compensation Offset, open seasons, and more!

Survivor Benefit Plan Calculators

There aren’t a whole lot in the way of online calculators to help you compare SBP to alternatives.  However, there are two that stand out:

OSD Actuary:  This is the Defense Department’s online resource, based upon actuarial data.  It’s updated every year, and allows an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison for SBP vs. term life insurance.  Once you input your information, the calculator (actually an Excel spreadsheet) will give you a recommendation, based upon your situation.

Once you go to the website, you’ll see a Survivor Benefit Plan tab in the upper right corner.  To get to the calculator, hover over that tab.  You’ll see”

  • Subsidy
  • Insurance
  • Premium
  • Probability

You’ll want to select the Insurance button.  This will open up the SBP/Insurance recommendation calculator.

Navy Mutual Aid Association:  While this calculator doesn’t provide the side-by-side comparison that I liked about the OSD Actuary site, it does allow you to project different scenarios to see what your payout would be.  It might not be for people who just want a clear recommendation, but many people tell me that they’ve used it to great satisfaction.

As I mentioned, this is not meant to be the end-all, be-all list for Survivor Benefit Plan resources.  If there’s something out there that you think is valuable, and you’d like to share it with others, please leave a comment in the comments box!

About Forrest Baumhover

Forrest Baumhover is a Certified Financial Planner™ and tax professional. His firm, Westchase Financial Planning, focuses on the unique financial planning needs of servicemembers and families looking to separate or retire from active duty.If you’d like to learn more about Forrest or his services, please check out the About Forrest page at the top of this article.
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