Death Benefits for Widows of Veterans
Below are some of the benefits many surviving spouses can utilize. It is always advisable to talk to your local Veteran Service Officer, County Service Officer, representative at the nearest Regional VA Office, or your Military Casualty Officer. These representatives are trained in processes and required documents; they may also be able to steer you towards benefits provide at your state level as well.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Benefit
The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefit is a tax-free monetary monthly payment made to eligible survivors of military servicemembers who died in the line of duty, or to eligible survivors of veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease. The base monthly rate is around $1,250 but the total payment may increase based on the servicemember’s rank, how many dependent children (under 18) there are, if the surviving spouse is housebound, or if he or she is eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit. As with all VA benefits, there is a specific list of eligibility requirements, evidence needed, and forms required, so be sure to review it with your local VA claims rep.
Death Gratuity Payment within 120 days of Retirement
The death gratuity is a one-time, non-taxable payment of $100,000 to help surviving family members deal with the financial hardships that accompany the loss of a servicemember. This benefit applies to the family members active duty members and reservists, as well as servicemembers who are traveling to begin their military service, or who have been accepted into service. For retirees, a lump sum payment of $12,420 s made if the servicemember is within 120 days of his or her retirement (no death gratuity payment is made after that timeframe). The payment is made to the surviving legal spouse, and if none is present, the payment is made to family members in a specific order.
The Survivors Pension benefit, also known as the Death Pension, is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried children of a deceased veteran with wartime service. Your yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the Survivors Pension benefit. If eligible, your pension benefit is calculated as the difference between your “countable” income and the annual pension limit set by Congress. The VA generally pays this difference in 12 equal monthly payments.
TRICARE Medical Coverage
TRICARE, the military’s health care provider, continues to provide coverage for family members when a servicememer dies. Health plan options and costs will vary based on the sponsor’s military status when he or she dies (must have been on active duty for more than 30 days), and if the surviving family member is a spouse or child. Claims will be cost-shared at the active duty family member rate for three years after death of active duty sponsor, and afterwards at the retiree rate. Widows or widowers remain eligible until they remarry and children remain eligible until age 21.
BAH for One Year
The military provides a monthly Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payment to servicemembers to help pay for housing. The spouse and children of a deceased servicemember living in government quarters are entitled to either remain in government housing for 365 days, or to relocate to private quarters and receive a one year of BAH or Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) as appropriate. To receive this allowance for private quarters, the servicemember must have been eligible to receive those allowances for his or her dependents at the time of death. BAH amounts are calculated based on numerous factors about the home’s location, and varies from city to city.
Home Loan Guaranty Benefit
The VA helps eligible surviving spouses become homeowners by providing a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy. VA Home Loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies, and the VA guarantees a portion of the loan, enabling the lender to provide you with more favorable terms. Additionally, many states sponsor additional home assistance and tax break programs for surviving family members, so it is a good idea to check with your state’s veterans department.
There are several federal and state benefits designed to help surviving spouses and dependents continue their education. For example, the Survivor’s Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program provides education and training opportunities for up to 45 months. These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship provides Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to the children and surviving spouses of servicemembers who died in the line of duty while on active duty after September 10, 2001. Eligible beneficiaries attending school may receive up to 36 months of benefits at the 100% level. Additionally, many states and universities offer scholarships or special assistance to surviving spouses and dependents to make continuing education more affordable, so be sure to check with your state’s veterans department or your school’s financial aid department.
https://www.veteranaid.org/blog/benefits-for-widows-of-veterans – written By Megan Hammons
NAMI – This is a nationwide mental health non-profit that offers free virtual sessions and more. All are different but free services are common to all.
County Social Services – Every county in America has a social services office. Call them. They often can help with reasonable funerals and mental health options.
Local Military Nonprofits – Start with the branch related to your Veteran served.
Local Faith-Based Outreach Groups – they can offer financial or emotional support.
They grant modest financial aid like us, and they focus on children’s needs, so reaching out to them if you have kids may turn out good. Check out their website and you want to talk to Tom Deierlein – Co-Founder.
The Military Aid Society offers grants and loans interest free to retired Veterans. There are two main MASs.
Army Emergency Relief (AER)
7117 Baltzell Ave.
Ft. Benning, GA
(706) 545-3530 office
(706) 593-8955 mobile
Contact: Lionel Grant – Military Aid Society
Find the VFW Near You for Help With VA Claims & Separation Benefits
Navy and Marines Relief Society
There is an equivalent and that information is coming soon. Until then, please reach out to Lionel Grant at Ft. Benning above, or call Craig Bennett below.
VA Service Officer
Craig has many answers about what you’re entitled to and has shown a real desire to care for each family.
Go Fund Me – Consider starting a Go Fund Me page. Other families have had success here. Hit or miss but definitely worth the time invested.
Mental Health Support
Your emotional healing may never be complete, but on our site we offer free and drug-free ways to clear your mind and find some peace. Here are some links below to get you started and feel free to roam our blog and the rest of our site for anything that may help.
National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) – This is a nationwide mental health non-profit that offers free virtual sessions and more. All are different but free services are common to all.
David Lynch Foundation Resilient Warrior Program for learning Transcendental Meditation. 4 in-person lessons. They are currently re-activating this program during the pandemic.
TAPS.ORG – they are the largest in the nation and it may take a while to hear back from them.
The WATCH Program at 22 Kill – this is a newer program that is similar to Taps’ networking opportunities.
Lift the Burden of Veteran Suicide
Your $20 gift helps pay off the family’s funeral bills. Not all families need help. Ours do.
ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER
Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.
Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.
We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.
Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.