Warning: After the death of their parent, disabled persons can be unjustly denied benefits under the DFAS SBP (Survivor Benefit Plan) and will find out that they have no way to fight back and no legal right to sue.
The disabled beneficiary is forced to re-certify that they are still disabled and failing the recertification the benifit is denied. This can be an impossible task for a someone who is cognitively impaired
The public rules presented by DFAS (which can be seen here) misrepresent the effect of marriage on eligibility for disabled beneficiaries. DFAS in fact uses marriage to disqualify disabled beneficiaries from coverage and this violates common sense, it violates industry norms and most importantly it is directly contrary to the rules given to the public.
There may be other unjust means which are used to deny SBP disability benefits. Our investigation has uncovered these 2 issues so far. There are probably more.
Our investigation has shown that DFAS fundimentally misrepresents the nature of this program to veterans. DFAS presents the SBP as rock solid airtight protection for the disabled that will ensure a small amount of financial stability but after the veteran dies it's a different story. After the veteran has died, DFAS acts as if the SBP is a de-facto welfare program for which the benificiary must apply. Our investigation shows that veterans are not told that there is any way a disabled child can be "disqualified" after the child has been accepted into the program as long as the veteran continues to make payments. Yet upon death, DFAS forces the disabled child to in effect apply all over again and indeed looks for any reason they can find to deny the death benifit. Even if the veteran paid for the disability benefit for their disabled child for decades.
Veterans who purchase an SBP are not really paying for a death benefit but are instead paying for the right of their disabled child to apply for a death benefit after they have died. Big difference!
In order to get SBP coverage for a disabled child a veteran, (and the disabled child/children) are required to to go through a rigorous certification process. This certification process requires thorough documentation of the disability that the child has, proof of service in the US military (for the veteran) - including an honorable discharge, a certain number of years of service and more. The disabled child can only get the death benefit if the policy has been kept in good standing and payments for can go on for up to 30 years for disability coverage. It's rigorous and expensive.
The veteran who paid for the policy has no idea of what the disabled beneficiary will be facing after he or she has died. If they did, it is highly unlikely that they would have ever signed up for it or paid one nickel into it.
How did this happen? We believe that there have been several factors and a probable succession of events. Roughly perhaps as follows:
- The disability side of the SBP is a small program.
- Budgetary pressures may have caused DFAS to expand the scope of things to look for to deny claims.
- In response to budgetary pressures, accounting/regulatory gynmastics are then employed to deny claims. Such as applying a "marriage exclusion" in this improper context.
- Many (most?) of the disabled beneficiaries who are denied coverage either do not understand the facts, are incapable of understanding the facts or not allowed by DFAS to even see the relevant documents. See the fiduciary page for more information on this subject. Bottom line: they are not a group who can fight back easily.
- Members of the general public have little to no right to sue the federal government for fraud.
In the occasional case where the family gets past #4 above, they will typically give up when they find out about #5
This kind of deception would result in a political firestorm if it was done in a large program like Social Security, but the number of disabled beneficiaries who are unjustly denied benefits is small and their ability to fight back is limited.
That is why we created this website!
If you are a disabled beneficiary (or an advocate for a disabled beneficiary) who has been denied this death benefit we would encourage you to reach out to us.
If you are a vetaran who is currently paying for disability coverage for a child or "natural person of interest", you need to take action now or your beneficiary will at risk.
Disabled persons are easy to take advantage of and may not have the resoures or health necessary to fight back. The DFAS SBP benefit may have been a big part of planning for the welfare of the disabled child and in the wake of an unjust denial of benefits their lives may be devastated. The denial comes at a time when their parent is no longer around to advocate for them and fight for them. It's outrageous and it's time to take action to stop this injustice!