Changes to Survivor Benefits Coming

Author: TAPS

Sometimes it can be confusing to keep up with all the changes to survivor benefits. TAPS is here to help you understand some new changes taking place and assist you with previous benefits. Here is an update on what’s new.

Medical Benefits

Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA)

The SSIA will continue! Since October 2008, surviving spouses whose Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments have been offset (partially or totally) as a result of receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) are eligible for the SSIA. Monthly payments are taxable and will be $310 a month until the end of 2018. After that, the payment will be linked to the military retirement COLA.

New Program for Dental and Vision Care

Do you use the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program for your dental care? This program will end on December 31, 2018, and be replaced by the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).

FEDVIP will offer more benefit choices and network flexibility for retiree dental care. Instead of one plan and one carrier, there will be 14 carriers to choose from. Another big difference will be the requirement to enroll for FEDVIP during the open enrollment period, which will run from November 12, 2018, through December 10, 2018. Coverage starts January 1, 2019.

Your best option for receiving information is to sign up at There you can learn about the programs, get a tutorial on how to choose a plan, and sign up for reminders on when you need to sign up.

Another tip is to ask which plans your dentist’s office accepts. That will help narrow your choices to a manageable few.

Remember that it’s important to sign up during the open enrollment period or you will be without dental insurance starting on January 1, 2019.

FEDVIP vision plans are designed to cover routine eye exams and vision correction without referral; low vision exams; eyeglass frames and lenses, or contact lenses instead of glasses, at many eye doctor offices and optical retail stores; lens options such as shatter-resistant polycarbonate; scratch-resistant, anti-reflective, and UV coatings; tinted and progressive lenses; and discounts on laser eye surgery.

If your children use the TRICARE dental program, they will continue with that program. There is no change. If you, as a surviving spouse, are currently using the TRICARE dental program, there will be no change until you reach your three-year point. At that time, you’ll need to enroll in the FEDVIP program. However, those using the active-duty TRICARE benefit will now be eligible for the vision portion of the FEDVIP program. You can find out more about vision coverage at

Remember that the TAPS Casework Assistance team is always here to guide you through your benefit questions and put you in touch with the right people to guarantee you’re getting the benefits your loved one earned and provided for you. Our staff can connect you with experts at TRICARE, DEERS, and the VA to ensure that you and your children are coordinated with the appropriate health care. Contact Casework Assistance at or 202-588-TAPS (8277).