When a married U.S. military veteran passes away, their spouses don’t always know that they may be eligible for surviving spouse benefits. In fact, there are many different VA benefits for spouses of a deceased veteran.
Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) – Spouse of Retired Military Veterans
Were you married to a veteran who retired from military service? The spouse of a military retiree may receive monthly SBP monetary benefits. To receive the benefit, the military retiree must have paid into the plan after retiring. The amount of the benefit is a percentage of the service member’s retired pay. A former spouse, child, disabled dependent or, in some cases, a brother or sister, can also receive this benefit.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) – Spouses of Disabled Veterans
DIC is a type of tax-free monthly benefit paid to the surviving spouse or other dependents of a veteran who passed away on or after January 1, 1957:
- While on active duty, or active or inactive duty for training, or
- Who died from a wartime injury or illness (service-connected disability), or
- Who died from a non-service connected injury or disease, and was also totally disabled from his/her service-connected disabilities for at least 10 years prior to death or since the veteran was discharged from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death or at least one year immediately preceding death if the Veteran was a former prisoner of war.
To qualify for the benefit the spouse must have lived with the veteran without a break until their death or, if separated, you were not at fault for the separation.
Additionally, you must have been married to the veteran within 15 years of their discharge from the service period during which the qualifying illness or injury occurred or got worse, or you were married to the veteran for at least 1 year or, you had a child with the veteran.
Survivor’s Pension – Spouses of Wartime Veterans
A survivor’s pension is a monthly monetary benefit paid to the low-income spouse of a wartime veteran who received anything other than a dishonorable discharge. The spouse must have been married to the veteran for a least a year
Aid and Attendance – Spouses of Wartime Veterans
The Aid and Attendance benefit is an enhanced pension for spouses who need long-term care. It is a reimbursement for care to help pay for home care, facility care, adult day care, residential care, and skilled nursing facility care.
Wartime service requirements are the same as the requirements for a Survivor’s pension. Spouses filing a claim for Aid and Attendance must need help with some of the activities of daily living. The spouse must also meet specific financial criteria.
To find out more about Aid and Attendance, contact one of our Benefit Consultants today at 877-427-8065.
Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) – Spouses of Disabled Veterans
CHAMPVA is a health care program that covers the cost of some health care services and supplies. You may be eligible for CHAMPVA if you do not qualify for TRICARE and the veteran died in the line of duty (not from misconduct) or died from their service-connected disabilities or was rated permanently and totally disabled at the time of their death.
Types of CHAMPVA services include inpatient services, outpatient services, mental health services, ambulatory surgery, transplants, family planning and maternity pharmacy, skilled nursing facility care, ambulance service, medical equipment, and hospice.
Fry Scholarship – Spouses of Veterans who Died in the Line of Duty
If you are the surviving spouse of a veteran who died during active duty on or after September 11, 2001, or in the line of duty while not on active duty or were a member of the Selected Reserve who died from a service-connected disability, you may be eligible for the Fry Scholarship. The scholarship provides money for tuition, housing, books, and supplies for up to 36 months.
Gunnery Sergeant John D. Fry, whom the scholarship was named after, was an explosive ordinance technician who was killed March 8, 2006 by an explosive device in Iraq.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA) – Spouses of Disabled Veterans or Veterans who Died while on Active Duty
The DEA program is a monthly monetary benefit to help cover the cost of college or graduate degree programs, career-training certificate courses, educational and career counseling, apprenticeships, and on-the-job-training.
To qualify, one of the following must apply:
- The veteran must be permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, or
- Died on active duty or because of a service-connected disability, or
- Is missing in action or was capture in the line of duty by a hostile force, or
- Was forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by a foreign entity, or
- Is in the hospital or getting outpatient treatment for a service- connected permanent and total disability, and is likely to be discharged for that disability
A surviving spouse can take advantage of this benefit up to 10 years from the date of the veteran’s death. If the service member died while on active duty, the benefit is available up to 20 years form the date of death.
Montgomery GI Bill Death Benefit – Spouse of Disabled Veterans
Surviving spouses can qualify for a GI Bill death benefit if the service member died from a service-connected death while on active duty or within one year after their discharge or release.
VA Home Loan Guaranty
Another VA surviving spouse benefit is a home loan. To qualify, the spouse:
- Was married to a service member who died as a result of service-connected disabilities, or
- Was married to a service member officially listed as missing in action or who is currently a prisoner of war for more than 90 days.
- Never remarried, or
- Remarried after the age of 57
The loan can be used to purchase a home, as well as for home construction or improvement.
Passports with “No-fee”
Surviving spouses are also eligible for “no-fee” passports to visit the deceased veteran’s grave or memorialization site at an American military cemetery on foreign soil.
Burial Benefits from the National Cemetery Administration
A surviving spouse can be buried at a National Cemetery with the veteran. Spousal burial benefits include burial with the veteran, perpetual care and the spouse’s name and date of birth and death inscribed on the Veteran’s headstone.
To find out if you meet the criteria for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit and to learn more about the claim process, contact one of our consultants today at 877-427-8065 or click here.