The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is proud to support members of the military with veterans education assistance programs, such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program. But they also offer benefits for veterans or military spouses, including veteran death benefits.
In the unfortunate event that a veteran should die, in service or outside of service, there are veterans widows benefits available to help ease the financial burden of such a loss. Understanding what benefits for spouses of veterans are available could help bring comfort when you need it most.
Benefits for Widows of Veterans
For widows of veterans, benefits can act as a comfort during a time of great distress. Veteran survivor benefits are financial assistance provided to help cover the costs that can be incurred from such a loss.
Here are some examples of veteran widow benefits:
- Burial Benefits – According to the VA website, Burial benefits available include a grave site in any of our 131 national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. The maximum reimbursable amount varies based upon the conditions selected. For example, when the Service arranges for preparation and casket (selected by the family) and remains are consigned directly for burial in a government cemetery, the maximum reimbursable amount is $1,000. If the family chooses to arrange for preparation, casketing, and burial in a private cemetery, then the maximum reimbursable amount is $8,800.
- Death Gratuity - Another benefit available is death gratuity. If your veteran dies while on active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty for training, or within 120 days of release from active duty if the death is due to a service-related disability, you are eligible for a lump sum payment made by the Department of Defense. Prior to their death, the service member would have selected the individuals to whom the money will go. The amount of death gratuity is $100,000 and is tax-exempt.
- Disbursement of Pay and Allowances - Any pay or allowances due to the service member at the time of death will be paid to a beneficiary, previously designated by the service member, or a legal representative. Normally, the pay and allowances due to the deceased service member will be limited to money earned during the month of death or since the last pay day. Service members are given the right to name any person as beneficiary for money remaining due at time of death. If a service member has no written instructions, the money will be paid to survivors in the following order: spouse, children in equal shares, parents, duly appointed legal representative.
- Survivor Benefit Plan - The SBP is a benefit for veterans that truly benefits the people left behind. SBP payments are equal to 55 percent of what a member’s retirement pay would have been had he or she been retired at 100 percent disability. If the spouse remarries before age fifty-five, the SBP annuity is suspended, but can be reinstated if the remarriage ends by death or divorce. If the individual remarries at age 55 or older, the annuity continues uninterrupted for the duration of the person’s life.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation – DIC is paid to eligible survivors of active duty service members and survivors of those veterans whose deaths are determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to be service-related. DIC is a flat monthly payment, independent of the pay grade of the veteran. The payment is adjusted annually for cost of living increases and is non-taxable. Have kids? VA also adds a transitional benefit of $250 to the surviving spouse’s monthly DIC if there are children under age 18. This is one of the best benefits for veterans widows as it is a permanent benefit, as long as the widow does not remarry before the age of 57.
- Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance – Upon the death of the service member, SGLI payment is made by the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (OSGLI) to the service member’s beneficiary in either a lump sum payment or in thirty-six equal monthly installments as specified by the service member. Eligible beneficiaries may elect to change the lump sum payment to thirty-six equal monthly payments; however, they cannot change the thirty-six equal monthly payments to lump sum.
There are many different types veteran’s widow benefits available, so be sure to do your research and find the ones that best fit your needs.