Get Educated, Get Prepared, Get Your Benefits
Living in hurricane and earthquake-prone areas, I know that there things I can do to get my family prepared and through the trouble if it hits. For earthquakes, we always have shoes under our beds in case an earthquake hits. Stepping on broken glass during our escape only makes a bad situation worse. With preparedness in mind, Once a Soldier has put together this overview of the Survivor’s Guide to your Benefits from the Department of Defense. It is current as of July 2015.
First off, here’s the link to the Department of Defense’s guide for you to view and download. It is 37 pages long and is loaded with useful information. Digitally store it in a place that is readily accessible on your desktop or somewhere you can get at it without a log-in or too many clicks. Storing it on the cloud is a great idea. Either way, having it just out of eye shot but a click away will be important when the storm hits.
Second, here are some terms and key elements of the Survivor’s Guide to Your Benefits that appear in the guide which you more than likely are familiar with, but it never hurts to refresh your memory:
Casualty Assistance Officer: This is the person to whom you should address your questions, as he or she will be your primary connection to the Department of Defense. The different branches of service have different titles for this person. Find out who currently holds this position and get their contact information. Once you have been notified of your loved one’s death, THEY WILL CALL YOU to arrange a visit. If you don’t get this call within 24 hours, call them.
Months after the death of your loved one, if issues or questions arise, your Casualty Assistance Officer is still your first call.
Casualty assistance officer
Casualty assistance calls officer
Casualty assistance calls officer
Casualty assistance representative
Casualty assistance calls officer
Death Gratuity: the death gratuity is a lump sum payment made by the Department of Defense to the survivors or other individuals identified by the service member prior to his or her death.
Death Gratuity amount: The amount of death gratuity is $100,000 and is tax exempt.
Burial benefits -Travel entitlements: The Department of Defense will care for, transport and inter your loved one. The surviving spouse, children and siblings of the service member, as well as the parents of both the service member and surviving spouse are authorized to receive travel entitlements.
Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SLGI coverage): Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance is a program of low-cost group life insurance for service members on active duty, ready reservists, members of the National Guard, members of the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Public Health Service, cadets and midshipmen of the four service academies and members of the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
SLGI Coverage Amounts: The maximum amount of SGLI coverage is $400,000. The SGLI coverage is available in increments of $50,000.
Forgiveness of a decedent’s tax liability: Tax liability can be forgiven, or refunded if already paid, if a service member dies under any of the following circumstances:
• While on active duty in a combat zone
• From wounds, disease or other injury received in a combat zone
• From wounds or injury incurred in a terrorist or military action
To go digital with the current status of your benefits, there is an Online Survivor Benefits Report. This is a DoD self-service logon premium account — or DS logon premium account — that will provide you access to an interactive online survivor benefits report. This report can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Links are provided in the PDF.
Finally, take notice that there are other benefits covered in the Survivor’s Guide to Your Benefits. Educational benefits like scholarships, financial counseling services, VA home loans and more are included.
Getting ready to the inevitable is part of loving your family and protecting their future. Do it now instead of in the time of crisis when time is short, your mind is cluttered and your emotions are raw.
Once a Soldier provides financial support for the survivors of soldier suicide. 100% of your gift will ease or erase their financial and emotional burden. Please donate and get a free t-shirt or mug as our thank you gift.
Can the surviving spouse of a man that served in the military receive a benefit of that now deceased spouse that remarried and has a living wife
Thanks for reach out. I don’t think that I can answer this without some research, probably the same you could do which is call your local VA or go on Google. At some point you’d have to file a claim with the proper documentation. This is a little out of our ballpark so I’m very sorry we couldn’t be of more help.
I have been in severe depression since my son took his life. I haven’t functioned well at all. I wondered if there was any compensation for a mother.
I saw your other comment and read your recent email to us. Our hearts go out to the families now and forever, and you and your son deserve more. To my knowledge, there is no support other than to surviving spouses. I would reach out to NAMI.org and take advantage of their free mental health groups. They are virtual and centered around the Veteran experience. Also, check out local social services for additional financial support. It is hard to come by, we know for it is hard for us to get grants for our mission. Best of luck and look for my email response as well.
I’m sorry this comment slipped by our response team. We will review and get back to you.
My son was in Iraq for 4 years. He came home with severe PTSD. He took his own life in May of 2018.
My husband was active duty Air Force and committed suicide two months ago. Will I receive DIC or SBP?
Thank you for your comment. I am sorry for your loss, please stay strong and get the help you need. We have some helpful articles and blog posts for you to deal with this.
To answer your questions, I reached out to a Veteran support group on Reddit and received these answers, I hope they help:
The way that statement was made isn’t to clear and could be interpreted a number of ways. Was he active at the time of his death? Was he retired? Was he once active duty but separated (not retired w/pension) before that happened? Those all could greatly affect what happens.
Here’s another response:
It depends on the remaining income. One is needs based, and the other is in line of duty, or was his death linked to disabilities.
I know these don’t have direct answers, but if you reply, I will continue to get your answer.
My brother was retired SSG in the army for about 4 years. I’m
Not sure if he decided to continued with his VGLI after retirement. I’m curious what benefits his wife will receive regardless of VGLI. Cause of death was suicide.
I’m sorry your comment was just seen. My apologies for this error.
I hope he decided to keep his VGLI. The benefits depend on his disability, if any, and whether or not he was connected to the VA at the time of death, was diagnoses he received.
You probably have this all sorted by now. Again, I apologize for not being on time with my response. If you still have questions, please email me directly at Dave@onceasoldier.org
My husband just passed and he was 100% disabled veteran. What will I receive as his spouse as far as benefits?
Sorry for your loss. Here’s what I found:
The basic monthly rate of DIC is $1,340 for an eligible surviving spouse. The rate is increased for each dependent child, and also if the surviving spouse is housebound or in need of aid and attendance. VA also adds a transitional benefit of $332 to the surviving spouse’s monthly DIC if there are children under age 18.
My father served on the USS Neville in 1944. He passed away but are there any benefits my mom would be entitled to.
Try the Survivor Benefit Plan number: (888) 332-7411. Or the Goldstar Family Assist and Support Team at (877) 827-2471. Please let us know what worked and what didn’t for the next family. Thank you. Dave
My husband that is an active soldier of army an e-3. Has just committed suicide. I was told by hi LTC that someone going to contact me soon. I am overseas with the children. His body is in hospital for almost 24hrs now. I am in anguish on how to get him home to the Philippines to his son. I am American citizen as well but cannot leave my elderly mom unattended.
Can they ship me his ashes? And his uniform, tags, boots… Where do I start and what will be recieved for our 5 yr old’s college? This is a nightmare. Like every hour seems like a year.
Thank you for trusting us with your personal story. I’m so sorry that you have been thurst into the chaos caused by suicide.
I would say first off, don’t be in anguish over where his body is. It sounds like he has been cremated if your asking for ashes. You will get them soon enough and have them forever. Waiting a few weeks is hard but focus on your happier memories until then. While it is a comfort to have his remains near you, your son and you need more immediate attention. Explaining the loss to a 5-year-old is gut-wrenching, but take care of yourself. Once the shock has worn off, find a group to support you from a local charity or online group.
If he was active duty, I can only hope that he had signed up for the life insurance plan offered to enlisted. Here is a link to the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) info on the VA page. He may have up to $400,000 in a payout coming. There may be a suicide clause that cancels it out, depending on how long he was in at the time. If it is available, all expenses will be taken from that policy by the funeral home that is handling him. They will take their costs and forward you the rest. I hope this is the case. Then your son will have a good start on college. If not, college is a long way off and not for everyone. You may want to save those worries for later on.
Being overseas certainly complicates things, and I would suggest you reach out to his base Chaplain for guidance and a starting point. What friends did he have? They will be able to be your eyes and ears on base while you move along this part of the process. Contact the Department of the Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Division anytime by calling 1-800-626-3317. Caller will be immediately referred to a local Casualty Assistance Center. You said someone will contact you soon, be prepared with a list of written questions and information that you want to ask and that they may need to complete your assistance.
Please stay in touch. Let me know what happens so that we may advise others in your situation in the future.
Can a surviving dependant child receive 911 GI Bill education benefits if a soldier commits suicide while still serving on active duty?
Good question. What I found on this VA page does not address suicide. It might be hard to get that answer. I would move forward with your plans and beg forgiveness instead of asking permission. Here’s the link: Can a surviving dependant child receive 911 GI Bill education benefits if a soldier commits suicide while still serving on active duty?
Good luck and please let me know what the final outcome was so that you can pass your info along to the next family. Thanks. Dave.
Please forgive me I did take it the wrong way. I should’ve read a few times before responding.
Completely understand how mistakes are made. Did you get an answer because it was a good question that I get from time to time.
Ok Dave@OAS, insensitive smart ass it’s not for me!!
I’m not sure what you mean, but what I meant in my reply was to suggest that you move forward as you see fit. I couldn’t answer your question directly. No offense was meant. Not trying to be smart, just as helpful as I can be.
My nephew committed suicide while in the Air Force. He had been in the AF for 21 years. Can his son receive any of his retirement benefits?
Sorry for the loss to your family. If he was in for 21 years, then he should have many more benefits available to the survivors than a non-retired Veteran. Since we do not usually help fully-retired Veteran families, I don’t know the answer to your question, I’m sorry. Check out this page for a Veteran Service Officer that we refer these kinds of questions to: https://www.onceasoldier.org/time-of-need-checklist/
His name is Craig Bennett