In this installment of “military divorce myths,” we’ll look at the belief that, if the servicemember already had elected Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage for the spouse at time of retirement, coverage for a former spouse continues automatically after divorce . False.
SBP and Former Spouse SBP are not the same thing. They are two, distinct annuity plans. SBP can cover an eligible spouse. Former Spouse SBP covers an eligible ex-spouse. Divorce terminates the now ex-spouse’s eligibility for SBP. That’s why it is critical that the divorce decree award the ex-spouse Former Spouse SBP.
Getting Former Spouse SBP awarded in the decree is not enough. The application for Former Spouse SBP must be received by DFAS-Kentucky within one year from the date of divorce, otherwise eligibility for coverage is lost. Time matters–and that’s why our firm submits the application to DFAS-Kentucky for the former spouse.
Military spouses looking for a divorce attorney should check to ensure whether their attorney will submit the application for them or if they’ll have to do it for themselves. If the attorney will not submit the application for the military spouse-client, that might be an indicator of a lack of familiarity with the issues involved in military divorce. You decide. Choose wisely.
Author Jim Cramp is a retired active duty colonel and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm. The Cramp Law Firm provides a spectrum of family-related legal services in the greater San Antonio Region.