My active-duty husband retires July 1, 2012, and we must make a decision about the Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP) soon. USAA endorses SBP, but we’re not convinced the plan makes sense. – Coni


While USAA does not specifically endorse SBP, we are big fans. Here’s why:

• It’s difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate with life insurance the protection SBP provides. Since SBP is permanent protection, to get “apples-to-apples” comparisons using life insurance you would have to buy permanent or whole life insurance. In our experience, this is typically three to five times more expensive than SBP. SBP premiums are also taken on a pre-tax basis, effectively making it less expensive from an out-of-pocket perspective.
• SBP benefits are cost-of-living adjusted. When the beneficiary begins to receive payments of 55 percent of the covered pay, those payments increase with the cost of living. Talk about a sense of security!
• SBP protects the fruit of decades of labor. We don’t mean to be flip, but if military retirement wasn’t a great deal the government wouldn’t be trying to change it to cut costs. We’ve crunched the numbers countless times and it’s certainly worth protecting.