Entitlement to Survivor Benefit Plan Annuity of Deceased Military Member

B-194469: May 14, 1979

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The Navy Finance Center requested a decision concerning the payment of a survivor annuity to two people who claimed to be the surviving wife of a deceased Navy member. Each claimant furnished a certificate to prove that she was ceremonially married to the retired Navy member, and no evidence was produced to show that the first marriage had been terminated by divorce. The Navy member named his first wife as his spouse when completing the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) form, even though at that time he had been married to his second wife for 3 years. The Navy member was still married to his first wife and was legally precluded from entering into a valid second marriage. Since the first marriage had not been terminated by death or divorce, the first wife was the Navy member's legal surviving spouse at the date of his death. His first wife, therefore, is the widow and the proper recipient of the SBP annuity.