Offset of Social Security Benefits Under the Survivor Benefit Plan

FPCD-77-74: Published: Sep 1, 1977. Publicly Released: Sep 1, 1977.

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Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) legislation enacted on September 21, 1972, provides for payment of annuities to survivors of retired military personnel and to survivors of personnel who die while serving on active duty and who were eligible for retirement. The amended law requires SBP annuities to be reduced, in certain instances, by the amount of Social Security benefits which are attributable to the deceased member's military service.

In spite of this requirement, a Department of Defense (DOD) directive, still provides that, in determining the SBP annuity reduction for survivors aged 62 or older without a dependent child, the survivor's social security benefit shall be calculated at 82.5 percent of the deceased member's social security benefit attributable to his military service. This understated reduction for benefits has resulted in overpayments which are currently continuing at the rate of $42.50 monthly. As of June 1, 1977, there were about 4,800 survivors that have their SBP annuities offset for social security. After being advised by GAO of the failure of the DOD Directive to conform with the legislative amendment, DOD officials stated that a proposed revision of portions of the directive was forwarded to the services for comment. However, the directive has not been revised.

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