Some survivor benefits are well known, while others may not be. Here are some of the survivor payments and benefits you may be eligible to receive:
- Unpaid pay and allowances. The designated beneficiary will receive any unpaid pay or allowances due to a deceased service member.
- Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration pays a lump-sum death payment of up to $255 to the surviving spouse and monthly payments to surviving families. Contact Social Security as soon as possible after a service member's death so that long-term benefits can begin.
- Tax services. As a surviving spouse, you may be eligible to receive free tax-preparation and filing services and tax consultations. Also, the Internal Revenue Service may forgive survivors' taxes for the year of death and possibly for earlier years. And several types of payments to survivors are tax exempt. Read IRS Publication 3, Armed Forces Tax Guide for more information.
more about your TRICARE benefits and entitlements.
- Medical and dental benefits. Surviving spouses of military retirees and deceased service members are entitled to TRICARE health and dental benefits. They also have specific information for family members of deceased active-duty service members. If you're the survivor of a veteran who died from a Department of Veterans Affairs-rated service-connected disability, check your eligibility for the Civilian Health and Medical Program.
- Other benefits. Surviving spouses may still be eligible to shop at the commissary and exchange and to use Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.
- Basic allowance for housing. If you are living in government housing as an authorized dependent, you may be eligible to continue living in government housing for a year. Should you decide to move out of government housing before the 365th day after your loved one's death, you will be paid a basic allowance for housing, known as BAH, for the unused 365 days at the current rate of basic allowance for housing. Surviving dependents who don't live in government housing may be eligible for the tax-free basic allowance for housing or an overseas housing allowance for one year. If you are a surviving spouse and a member in the armed services, you are also eligible to receive BAH as an authorized dependent.
- Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools. Effective May 14, 2009, dependents of service members who die on active duty may be eligible to continue in Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools without limitations, either on their physical residence or on school transition points, until they graduate or relocate to another school system.
- Educational assistance. Spouses of deceased service members and their children ages 18 to 26 can receive educational assistance for various colleges and universities under the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance program or the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship. Contact your local Department of Veterans Affairs office to find out how to apply for this benefit. Also, after the service-related death of an active-duty service member, the VA will refund, to the service member's Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance beneficiary, any money the service member paid into a Montgomery GI Bill® account.
- Grief counseling. Support is available for survivors through Military OneSource, the Department of Veterans Affairs and TRICARE.
- Military OneSource. Military OneSource is a call center and a website, providing free, comprehensive information and resources on every aspect of military life to service members, their families and survivors. Military OneSource is here to help you 24/7/365. Visit the website or call 800-342-9647. Services include confidential non-medical counseling, financial counseling and tax consultation, preparation and filing services, the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program, specialty consultations on topics including adult and elder care, health and wellness coaching, the Exceptional Family Member Program, translation services and more. Counselors offer information and make referrals on a wide range of issues including grief and bereavement.
- Financial counseling services. Financial counseling services are available through your loved one's military service branch and Military OneSource. Beneficiaries of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance, Family Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance and Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection are eligible for this cost-free service from FinancialPoint, which provides beneficiaries valuable personalized financial information and expert consultation to ensure they have the tools to manage their finances effectively. The counselors will not try to sell you anything but merely provide financial advice to assist you. Beneficiaries have two years to request financial counseling services and another two years to use those services. Beneficiaries paid through the Alliance Account have access to the services as long as their accounts remain open. Reach FinancialPoint at 888-243-7351 or via email at FCS@ financialpoint.com.
- Legal services. Surviving spouses may be eligible to receive legal services such as preparing a will or a power of attorney, and receive legal advice. Legal services are available on all military installations.
- Long-term casualty assistance. Eventually your casualty assistance officer will return to his or her primary job full time, but not until matters relating to your loved one's case have been answered and all entitlements and benefits are being received. However, assistance to you does not stop here. Your casualty assistance officer should connect you with your service's long-term case management program, which will have expert case managers and counselors available to assist you in the years to come. You may access support groups, grief counseling, benefit assistance, milestone management (as you experience life changes, your benefits may change), financial counseling to assist with budgeting, investing, estate planning, tax issues and other long-term benefits.
- Special-preference programs for employment. Widows, widowers and mothers of veterans may be able to take advantage of special-preference programs when seeking employment with the federal government. These programs do not guarantee a job but do give a qualified candidate entry to the applicant pool.
- Veterans Affairs housing benefits. The VA provides a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain or adapt a home for your personal residence. Contact your local VA office for more information.
- State benefits. Several states also provide military survivor benefits that may include bonuses, educational assistance, civil-service preference, loans and employment assistance. Visit your local VA office, and contact your local government officials for more information on state benefits.
Visit the VA website or call 800-827-1000 to learn more about VA-administered programs.