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Establishing Retroactive Survivor Benefit Plan Payments (SBP) for a Dependent Child

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By Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro

In December 2014, Congress passed the Disabled Military Child Protection Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. This important piece of legislation amended 10 U.S.C. 1450 by permitting monthly Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity payments to be assigned to a special needs trust for the sole benefit of a dependent child. Since this time, one of the major concerns has been whether benefits could be established by a parent with a dependent child when an election was not made previously.

Absent another valid election, a retiree of the United States Armed Forces begins to receive retirement income and, is enrolled in the Survivor’s Benefit Plan (SBP). With a full election of the SBP, upon the death of the retiree, up to 55% of the retiree’s retirement pay will be paid to a spouse or dependent child. Under the SBP, a “dependent child” includes an adult child that is incapable of self-support as a result of a physical or mental disability, provided such disability occurred prior to the age of 22. By making an election to provide the SBP to a dependent child, the retiree ensures a continuation of income to support the dependent child when the retiree and any surviving spouse have passed. Absent such an election, upon the death of the retiree, military retirement pay will cease.

You can revoke an election at any time; however, there are very few scenarios for which you can retroactively establish benefits. After receiving my first approval of retroactive establishment of SBP coverage for a dependent child, I now know that under certain circumstances, establishment of retroactive coverage of the SBP is possible in light of the new change in legislation. While Hook Law Center has been successful on this one occasion, we cannot guarantee approval and I anticipate approval of retroactive coverage will be limited in duration. As a result, if you are interested in making changes to your election, you should act sooner, rather than later. Furthermore, you should be prepared to pay the government a rather  check to cover the monthly payment for the benefit since date of retirement.

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat – Faithful Friend

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what can you tell us about the faithful dog in Spokane, Washington who stayed with a toddler in a house fire?

Kit Kat:  Well, this is one story that doesn’t have a happy ending. However, it does reveal the faithfulness of a wonderful canine, a terrier mix, who stayed with the toddler during the fire. Unfortunately, both perished. It happened like this—a fire broke out around 11:30 PM in the Hillyard neighborhood of Spokane on Friday, October 21, 2016. A neighbor noticed the fire and heard screaming. He called 911, and immediately ran outside to fight the fire with his garden hose. Three other children and two adults escaped, but one child, a young toddler, did not make it out. His dog and a teddy bear were found with him in a 2nd story bedroom. Firefighters believe the dog stayed behind to protect him. What more can one ask than that? The dog was more than heroic!

The fire is under investigation, as the battery in the house’s smoke detector had been removed. That is all the information that the newspaper article provided. Perhaps, however, we can learn some tips for preventive action—always know where the occupants of one’s house are. If you leave your children with others, make sure they are aware of escape routes and are familiar with the property’s layout. Also, keep all smoke detectors functional. Hopefully, we can learn from this tragedy, so that it never happens again. (Martha Bellisle, “Toddler dies in fire, his dog at his side,” The Virginian-Pilot, October 23, 2016, p. 14)

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Posted on Monday, October 31st, 2016. Filed under Newsletter.