Though for some it’s a morbid thought, many people do like to prepare in the event of their death to ensure that their families are well taken care of in their wake. Men and women who served in the military are eligible for many benefits during their lives, and also hold benefits for their family’s use during death.
Memorial and Burial
The first benefit that your family may utilize is a burial and memorial benefit. Upon your death, your family will need to fill out the appropriate form at the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs web site, and provide proof of honorable discharge. Once that is taken care of, the VA will assist them in scheduling a burial and service with presentation of military honors and awards, a military committal service, arrangement of details, and burial and maintenance upkeep in one of 131 national VA cemeteries.
Not only is a military memorial service moving, but the VA’s guidance throughout the process will take a load off of your family after your passing in their time of need. Though there’s nothing you can do to prepare in terms of reserving a burial spot (the VA doesn’t allow those reservations), you can assist by keeping all of your discharge and relevant military documents in one spot for safekeeping.
There are forms of compensation paid to families after death: the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors. Family’s who are eligible include families of those who died while on active duty, or who died from a service related injury. There are a few other situations where this benefit may apply, details can be found online at the official military web site.
A death gratuity of $100,000 applies to those families where the military participant has passed while on active duty, while traveling to or from active duty, or while on training on inactive duty (in reserves). Similar to the DIC, there are a few other specific terms in which the death gratuity does apply, more information can be gathered on the official military web site.
Eligible dependents of deceased wartime veterans will receive a death pension. They are eligible if the veteran was discharged under any other condition other than dishonorable, and served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day in wartime. Also, the recipient of the death pension must be the surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran, and have an income below an annual limit (set by the law). More information for the death pension, to whom and how it applies, can be found on the military’s web site.
Widows, widowers and unmarried children of the deceased soldier are eligible to receive Tricare benefits if the deceased was serving or ordered to serve more than 30 days at the time of death. Though some cost in this benefit will fall on the family of the deceased, it’s important to know that the cost will change over time and through major life events (remarrying, for example). Explore Tricare survivor benefits on the Web site to determine what, specifically, those benefits may look like in any given situation.
Lastly, most military families who reside on government properties can remain for 1 year before needing to relocate, with a housing allowance supplied. In order for the family to receive the housing allowance benefit, the soldier must have been eligible to receive these benefits for them at his or her time of death.
If your loved one who served our country has passed, don’t forgo the benefits that they worked hard and sacrificed to obtain for you. Empower yourself with knowledge to utilize these benefits in the event of their passing.