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Do you remain eligible for survivor benefits after your divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2019 | Divorce |

Your marriage to a service member in Federal Way likely places you in the position of needing to make certain sacrifices in order to accommodate their service. Among those sacrifices may be your career pursuits in order to dedicate yourself to running your family while your spouse fulfills their military obligations. Consequently, you become dependent on the benefits made available through your spouse’s service. Among those benefits may be the assurance that if your spouse dies during the course of their service, you will be paid survivor benefits to compensate for the loss of their support. 

Do you remain eligible for those benefits if you and your service member spouse choose to divorce? The answer to that question depends on the unique circumstances of your case. Per the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the court presiding over your case may mandate that your ex-spouse continue to offer you SBP coverage. Such a mandate may depend on a number of factors, such as your ability to secure gainful employment on your own or whether your responsibilities to your children make it unreasonable to expect you to work full-time outside of the home. If you are declared eligible for survivor benefit plan coverage following your divorce, either you or your ex-spouse must declare this to the DFAS within one year of your divorce becoming final. 

It is important to remember that survivor benefits are not automatic. Your ex-spouse must have elected to pay for such coverage from their military retirement pay. If your ex-spouse does die while in service, the maximum amount you can receive as survivor benefits is 55 percent of what would have been their base retirement pay.