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Deceased Retired Military Spouse Benefits

The Survivor Benefit Plan

VA Pensions for Surviving Spouses | VA Benefits for Veterans’ Wives & Husbands | theSITREP

The SBP coverage includes a monthly payment, also called an annuity, paid to the surviving spouse lr or to the child of the deceased military member.

  • Note: If the deceased military member does not have a spouse or children, then the recipient can be an insurable interest like a parent or a business partner.

The specific amount of SBP that is given to the recipient each month is a percentage of the deceased military members retired pay.

It depends on whether the member chose a full or reduced coverage. SBPs can provide up to 55 percent of retired pay.

Military Retiree Survivor Checklist

The following checklist should be reviewed by military retirees and their beneficiaries on an annual basis. This checklist is designed to equip you and your loved ones with knowledge and information that may prove helpful. While it may be impossible to truly prepare for the overwhelming emotions and dilemmas that arise with the loss of a loved one, it does help when most of the below issues have been put into place.

__ Create a military file that includes your retirement orders, separation papers, medical records, etc. Make sure your spouse knows the location and telephone number of the nearest military installation.

__ Create a military retired pay file that includes the pertinent information for DFAS

__ Create an annuities file. This file should have information about the Survivor Benefit Plan , Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan or the Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan , Civil Service annuity, etc. Additional information regarding SBP annuity claims can be obtained from the DFAS-Cleveland office at 800-321-1080.

__ Create a personal document file that has copies of marriage certificates, divorce decrees, adoptions and naturalization papers.

__ Create an income tax file. Include copies of your state and federal income tax returns.

__ Create a property tax file. Include copies of tax bills, deeds and any other related information.

__ Create an insurance policy file. Include life, property, accident, liability and hospitalization policies.

Legal Assistance After A Military Veteran Or Retiree Death

Surviving spouses and family members of military personnel have access to free legal assistance at most military bases. The legal office can answer questions, offer advice and help you with forms or other documents like wills and powers of attorney.

While the legal office is there to assist you, they can not represent you in a courtroom. For legal assistance near you, contact your local JAG office.

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Contact The Defense Finance And Accounting Service

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service is the military pay agency. You will need to make an initial verbal report of the retirees/veterans death immediately. You can contact DFAS by:

After they halt payment, DFAS will send out a packet for the surviving spouse or dependent to request survivor benefits payments. This packet will include:

Once you have completed these forms, return them to:

Defense Finance and Accounting Service U.S. Military Annuitant Pay8899 E. 56th St.

Be sure to include a copy of the military members death certificate

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Veterans Benefits for Widows

Some VA lenders are tailored for borrowers with weaker credit, while others offer a larger variety of VA loan types. The best way to determine if you are eligible is to start by connecting with a lender. Lenders can pull your Certificate of Eligibility in minutes to see if you meet the basic service requirements and have VA loan entitlement. Additionally, a lender can review your financial information to determine if you meet credit and income guidelines.

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Va Benefits For Dependents

For a child to qualify for benefits as a dependent child or surviving child of the veteran, there are also two requirements.

  • The child must be either:
  • A biological child,
  • a stepchild of the veteran.
  • The child must be either:
  • of qualifying age: under 18, or between 18 and 23 if pursuing education, OR
  • a helpless child: permanently incapable of self-support before the age of 18.
  • To prove a child is the biological child of the veteran, the VA usually only requires a written statement with the childs age, date of birth, and social security number. It is rare that the VA requires additional proof, but if they do it will likely be in the form of: a copy of public record of birth a copy of baptism record an official report from the service department that the birth occurred while the veteran was in service

    Or an affidavit or certified statement from a physician attendant at birth a copy of a family record properly certified by a notary public or an affidavit or certified statement of a disinterested person who can attest to personal knowledge of the childs biological relationship to the parents.

    If the veteran was married when the child was born and the veteran is the childs biological parent, no additional proof of the relationship is required. If the veteran is the childs biological mother and the child was born outside of a marriage, the same rule applies.

    Do I Get My Husbands Va Healthcare If He Dies

    Surviving family members may be eligible for comprehensive health care coverage through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs . This program helps cover medical supplies and services for surviving spouses and dependent children who dont qualify for coverage under TRICARE.

    According to the VA, surviving spouses and dependent children must meet the following requirements to qualify for health care benefits:

    • Be the spouse or child of a veteran who has been rated permanently or totally disabled for a service-connected disability, or
    • Be the surviving spouse or child or a veteran who died from a VA-related service-connected disability, or
    • Be the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who was at the time of death rated permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability, or
    • Be the surviving spouse or child of a service member who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct. Though, family members who meet the last requirement generally qualify for TRICARE.

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    What Spouses Of Career Military Need To Know About Military Retired Pay

    For decades many were let to believe there was only one option to provide death benefits for spouses of veterans, the SBP.

    The SBP benefit is an annuity that was created to give a minimal level of support in the case that a retired veteran dies before their spouse. It is available without restriction to all retiring veterans.

    Rather than paying out a lump sum to the beneficiary like most life insurance policies, it pays a portion of the deceased veteranâs retired pay each month, for the remainder of the surviving spouseâs life.

    Eligible Monthly Payments For A Deceased Service Member

    It’s open season for Survivor Benefit Program (SBP) coverage for former spouses

    In the pre-9/11 era, when this occurred, the active-duty death benefits for a surviving spouse were insufficient. While overall compensation has improved for eligible survivors, many gold star families are still shocked at how little they receive in comparison to what they would have received in retired pay had there not been an early death.

    We need to face the reality that the Government accounting office knows it saves money when a Veteran isn’t alive very long. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

    It’s the same problem we see with Social security. The payments made today are for a future promise. But there is nothing of stored value with your name on it. Payments for today’s retirees come from today’s new social security taxes on workers. If they live too long, there isn’t enough new Soc. Sec. taxes to pay for it.

    The Social security system was designed when they only expected retirees to live a couple of years past retirement. Life expectancy was only 65! We are living longer and prices are going up.

    These problems are no different when it comes to how a military pension and the veteran’s death benefits work.

    The only way to ensure you have a proper death gratuity is to design a personalized strategy in the unlikely event of the service member’s death.

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    Retiree And Government Contributions To Sbp

    As noted above, the cost of the SBP is shared by the government and the retirees. The amount paid by a particular retiree varies depending on level of coverage, years of payments, years the survivor receives an annuity, etc. For active duty personnel who make no contributions, the benefit is essentially free. Certain retirees and organizations representing their interests have claimed that, as originally structured, withholdings from retired pay for SBP were expected, on average, 40% of the cost of this benefit. Further it is claimed that since retirees are living longer and since the government has manipulated the withholdings formula, the retirees’ share has increased to more than 73%.49 These claims are made in an effort to increase government payments into the SBP in hopes of increasing benefits .

    The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 directed Comptroller General to report on the actuarial soundness of the Survivor Benefit Plan.51

    On July 26, 2006, the Government Accountability Office issued its report.52 The following is verbatim from that report:


    According to the DOD OOA estimates, the significant SBP program changes53 we reviewed have resulted in the following:

    The two potential changes to SBP benefits mentioned in Section 666 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 would likely also result in increases to the DOD normal cost payments and the annual Treasury amortization payments to the Fund as follows.

    Eligibility For Children Of Vietnam Veterans

    Depending on the birth defect, children of Vietnam veterans must meet several requirements to receive benefits.

    For Spina Bifida

    VA benefits apply to all forms and manifestations of spina bifida, except spina bifida occulta. To receive benefits for spina bifida, the childs biological mother or father must have served in:

    • The Republic of Vietnam or in Thailand for any length of time between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, OR
    • A unit in or near the DMZ for any length of time between September 1, 1967, and August 31, 1971

    AND the child must have been:

    • Diagnosed with a form of spina bifida other than spina bifida occulta, AND
    • Conceived after the parent first entered the Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, or the DMZ during the qualifying time periods listed above.

    Unlike claimants for other VA disability benefits, a claimant for spina bifida benefits will not have to undergo a VA medical examination unless the spina bifida diagnosis is suspect. If a potential claimant has a diagnosis of spina bifida occulta, it may be helpful to seek another medical opinion.

    For Other Birth Defects

    According to the VA, children of Vietnam veterans with the following birth defects may be eligible for benefits:

    • Cleft lip and cleft palate
    • Congenital heart disease
    • Hirschprungs disease
    • Hydrocephalus due to aqueductal stenosis
    • Undescended testicle
    • Williams syndrome

    To be eligible for benefits, children with the above birth defects must meet the following criteria:

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    What Is Helpless According To The Va

    The last option is what the VA calls a helpless child. This is the veterans biological child, adopted child, or stepchild who is permanently incapable of self-support before they turn 18, either because of a physical or mental disability.

    The one claiming benefits for the helpless child should submit medical or psychiatric reports and lay evidence to show the child had the incapacity before turning 18 and qualifies as a helpless child. Once the child is considered a helpless child, they remain under that status as long as they are not married, employed, or capable of self-support.

    The veterans child must be either younger than 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 if they are pursuing a course of education or training at an approved educational institution. The VA determines what educational institutions are approved, usually a permanent organization that offers courses of instruction to a group of students who meet its enrollment criteria, meaning schools, colleges, academies, seminaries, technical institutes, and universities.

    A home school program only counts as an approved educational institution if it operates in compliance with state attendance laws. Schools outside the US may be approved if the program is offered by an institution recognized as standard and accredited.

    Now that we have covered who may receive benefits in addition to the veteran, we will next look at what benefits are available to these qualifying individuals.

    Should I Submit An Intent To File Form

    Do Veterans Spouses Get Death Benefits

    You may want to submit an intent to file form before you apply for VA Survivors Pension benefits. This can give you the time you need to gather your evidence while avoiding a later potential start date . When you notify us of your intent to file, you may be able to get retroactive payments .

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    Spouse And Child Coverage15

    Under Spouse and Child coverage, upon the retiree’s death, SBP benefits are first paid to the surviving spouse. If the surviving spouse predeceases the retiree, dies after becoming eligible to receive SBP benefits, or becomes ineligible to receive SBP benefits , the SBP benefits will then be paid directly to the designated child or children. If there is more than one child, the SBP benefits are paid in equal shares to each child for as long as he or she remains eligible.

    The cost of this coverage is additive to that of Spouse Only coverage, and is determined on an actuarial16 basis, taking into account the age of the retiree, the spouse, and the youngest child. For example, a retiree who is 45 years old, with a spouse who is 40 years old and a child age 10, would have to pay a small additional amount of the base amount of retired pay in order to cover a child or children in addition to the amount paid for Spouse Only coverage. Since the cost of coverage is computed on an actuarial basis, it is subject to change.

    A child becomes ineligible for an SBP benefit upon reaching age 18 .17 A child who marries becomes ineligible to receive SBP benefits regardless of age.18 An eligible child who is or becomes incapacitated may continue to receive SBP benefits for the duration of the incapacitation if the condition existed prior to the child’s 18th birthday.

    Student Eligibility For The Military Sbp

    The SBPs child annuity payments typically end when recipients turn 18. Children are eligible to continue receiving payments until the end of the school year during which they turn 22, as long as they remain unmarried and attend one of the following full time:

    • Accredited vocational institute
    • Accredited college or university

    The certification process has gotten easier for students age 18 and older covered as a child annuitant under the military Survivor Benefit Plan.

    The changes went into effect in May 2020, highlighted by the following:

    • A simpler certification form
    • A students ability to self-certify
    • An extension of the certification deadline to annually instead of each term/semester

    SBP annuity payments for qualifying high school and college students are not affected by school closures in the wake of coronavirus disease 2019.

    The DOD simplified the process of students becoming certified in other ways, including:

    • Students will now self-certify. So they will no longer need a school officials signature or school documentation when they certify full-time attendance. With COVID-19 school closures, this truly simplifies the process.
    • Simpler Child Annuitants Certification for Previous Attendance Letter for certifying past attendance.

    The Defense Finance and Accounting Service details the new certification process on their website, including all the changes. Make sure to complete the updated Child Annuitants School Certification form.

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    Eligibility For Death Pension

    A surviving spouse is eligible at any time until remarriage, whereas a surviving child is only eligible if he or she is:

    • less than 18 years old,
    • under the age of 23 and attending a school approved by the VA, or
    • had a injury or illness prior to age 18 that caused a permanent disability such that the child cannot support himself or herself.

    Am I Eligible For A Va Survivors Pension As The Child Of A Deceased Wartime Veteran

    Your spouse or other surviving minors can receive military benefits after you die.

    You may be eligible for this benefit if youre unmarried and you meet at least one of these requirements.

    At least one of these must be true:

    • Youre under age 18, or
    • Youre under age 23 and attending a VA-approved school, or
    • Youre unable to care for yourself due to a disability that happened before age 18

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    What If The Veterans Child Is Adopted

    A child can also be the veterans adopted child, as shown by evidence that the veteran legally adopted the child before they turned 18. Proof of this would be a copy of the adoption decree or of the adoptive placement agreement.

    A child that is the biological child of the veterans spouse, former spouse, or surviving spouse may qualify for benefits as the veterans stepchild.

    The marital and biological relationship would have to be established, and the veteran must show that the child currently resides in the veterans household. If it is for DIC benefits, the surviving spouse must show that the child resided in the veterans household at the time of the veterans death.

    Persons With An Insurable Interest

    Insurable Interest coverage may be selected only if there is neither a spouse nor a dependent child at the time of retirement. Under this coverage a beneficiary is defined as “a natural person with an insurable interest”19 in the retiree. Included in this category are relatives of the retiree, such as a parent, sibling, or a child who may not qualify for SBP beneficiary status under Spouse Only, Spouse and Child, or Child Only provisions. Non-relatives, such as a business partner, may also be covered. Unlike other SBP options, Insurable Interest must be elected at the maximum level.

    The cost of Insurable Interest coverage is 10% of the base amount of military retired pay plus 5% of total base amount of retired pay for each full 5 years that the named beneficiary is younger than the retiree. Insurable Interest coverage is thus more expensive than other types of coverage. However, the total cost to the retiree of this coverage cannot exceed 40% of total military retired pay. In other words, a retiree who wishes to provide Insurable Interest coverage to a person 30 or more years younger would have the maximum of 40% of the base amount of military retired pay withheld.

    According to language contained in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY1995, Insurable Interest coverage could be voluntarily discontinued . Retirees discontinuing this coverage, who later remarry or acquire dependents, may again participate in the SBP under another allowable beneficiary category.20

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