I was married to my marine husband for 9 years. He seperated from the military (24 years - retired as reservist) prior to our Marriage and was awaiting pension benefits. He died from cancer at age 53 (in the gap). The military denied me his pension based on several factors relating to missing information in the file. I provided everything I had including marriage certificate, death certificate, etc. The military is saying they do not have me on records as his spouse... however, I've had a military spouse ID since our marriage and have been given base priveledges since his death. After appealling their decision, they've now explained to me that there is not a form in the file that notes my husband signed me up for pension benefits? They didn't have half the important papers in his file? Now they claim not to have the one paper needed to grant me benefits? I do not have a copy of his military file as it was destroyed in a house flood over 5 years ago :-( Where can I turn for help?
State/Country relating to question: California
Appealed to Navy Board of Records.
Thank you for using Just Answer. Between my law practice and other law related jobs, I have over 13 years experience. I look forward to assisting you.I'm sorry. I don't know what to tell you about how to find these records if they do not have them.Normally, a military pension dies with the Soldier. For it to survive the soldier, that retiree must have entered into something called the survivor's benefit plan. It is more than just a form. The soldier would have had to file lots of paperwork and make payments for that to be put in place, because it is essentially like buying an annuity based on the life of the surviving spouse.If they can not find any such paperwork and you don't have any such paperwork, it's going to be impossible to prove that he entered into the Survivor's Benefit Program. And it will be your burden to prove it.
In 2002 the Survivor Benefit Plan became an automatic election for the spouse. We were married in 2002 and my husband was assurre that he need not do anything to sign me up. Because he was not yet receiveing benefits, there was no premium due yet... the premium was to start when the benefits started. It was his expectation that a percentage of his pension would be paid to me upon his death. Now, after the fact, the military is claiming that he needed to make an election BEFORE we were married (when he seperated), or within a year of his seperation. Seems like the rules changed in 2002 and it is causing confusion and denial of benefits?
Well, not the rules change didn't really effect the situation here in the way you think.If you had been married at the time he separated, then the election would have been automatic because he would have had a spouse.You weren't married at the time he separated, when the automatic election would have been made. Then after you were married, he would have had to use that as the opportunity to name you as the beneficiary.I will agree that whoever told you that he needed to do nothing was confused.
He was given that advice during our meeting to update our wills and to get my spouse ID right after we were married. They told him it would be an automatic election. What recourse do I have now. I am financially devastated and so is my stepdaughter. Not only have we lost our primary breadwinner, but his medical bills are like an avalanche :-(
I'm sorry, but if the election was not made, it was not made. You can't sue the military for the failure to have your SBP set up. It is was not set up, the military is not liable.You can consider a Federal Torts Claims Act claim against the military for the faulty advice given, in an effort to get damages. That is your only recourse here.
I've never used this site before... if I want to pursue your suggestion of Federal Torts Claims Act claim - is that something you can help with?
No, it is not. We answer questions, but I can not represent you in any sort of court action. The rules of this site prohibit that sort of relationship. You would have to hire a local personal injury attorney to bring that sort of claim for you.
Lawyer and current JAG officer.
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