Prior to making the Survivor Benefit Plan election to a special needs trust: 1) establish the trust account at Commonwealth Community Trust (CCT); 2) obtain the Tax Identification Number from CCT*, and, 3) obtain the attorney’s Special Needs Trust Certification form from CCT.
Make the election with your Service and choose “Spouse and Child” or “Child Only.” Your election of Survivor Benefit Plan benefits prior to retirement is processed by your Service and, once approved, is irrevocable.
To be eligible to elect the special needs trust as the beneficiary under the Survivor Benefit Plan, the retiree must have previously elected “Spouse and Child” or “Child Only” coverage for the disabled child under the Survivor Benefit Plan. If the service member is alive, and if he or she has previously elected “Spouse and Child” or “Child Only” coverage under the Survivor Benefit Plan, he or she may make the designation to direct payment on the behalf of a beneficiary to a special needs trust at any time.
After the death of a member or retiree, if the service member or retiree had elected “Spouse and Child” or “Child Only” coverage under the Survivor Benefit Plan, any surviving parent, grandparent or court appointed legal guardian may make the designation to have payments made to a special needs trust on the behalf of a beneficiary.
Required Documentation by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS):
1. A written statement of the decision to have the annuity paid to the special needs trust that includes the name of the dependent child, and the name and Tax Identification Number* for the trust (provided by your Service or this standard form for CCT.)
2. Attorney’s Special Needs Trust Certification (To view a copy of the Special Needs Trust Certification that CCT uses, click here.)
Submit certified Special Needs Trust paperwork to the following Defense Finance and Accounting Service address:
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Retired Pay
8899 E. 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249-1200
In the event that DFAS is not able to make the change in Survivor Benefit Plan election (for example if the retiree did not originally elect “Spouse and Child” or “Child Only” coverage) a military member, or family of deceased, can apply to the Service Board for Correction of Military Records for relief by submitting a DD Form 149 to the Service Board. Along with DD Form 149, you will need the same information necessary to change the beneficiary of an existing election.
For those with a child already receiving a Survivor Benefit Plan annuity, these steps should allow the child to regain eligibility for SSI/Medicaid. For those who chose not to designate their child as a Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiary previously, there may be a nominal fee for the reinstatement once obtained.