When a member of the military dies or is permanently injured as a direct result of their service, the government offers their loved ones a variety of benefits. These offerings are administered through the Veterans Benefits Administration and can help provide security during a difficult and tumultuous time. The following are included, according to the VBA’s official website:
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is a one-time, tax-free monetary benefit to the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who dies from a service-related injury or disease. Children must be unmarried and either under 18 years or old, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and currently attending school.
Widows and widowers must have been married at the time of the death or within 15 years of the discharge from the period of military service in which the veteran first was injured or became ill. If the survivor is not married to the servicemember, they must have a child together. The survivor can not have remarried and can not be the cause of a separation.
- Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Another benefit for veteran survivors is Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, which is a similar, tax-free monthly benefit paid to the parents of a servicemember who died in the line of duty or from a service-related injury or illness. This includes all biological, adoptive and foster parents who meet income eligibility guidelines, listed here.
- Survivors’ Pension
A Survivors’ Pension is a monetary benefit paid to the low-income spouses and unmarried children of deceased veterans with war-time service. As with the above payments, it is tax-free. It is payable contingent upon the following guidelines:
- The veteran can not have been discharged dishonorably.
- Veterans who served before 9/7/1980 must have 90 days of active service, one of which must be during a war time period.
- Veterans who served after 9/7/1980 must have served either two years or the full period during which they were called for active duty, of which one day must be during a war time period.
- Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship
After Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry injured his hand while stationed in Iraq in 2006, he could have transitioned back to civilian life. He had just one week left in his tour, and he was given the option of going home early with a Bronze Star. However, he continued working to protect those he served with, and, later that same day, lost his life while defusing an explosive. Just 28 years old, he gave his life so that other marines would be safer.
To honor his sacrifice, a scholarship was founded in his name. It provides up to 36 months of tuition benefits, along with a textbook stipend and a housing allowance. The award is capped for private universities, while in-state students attending a state school receive all related tuition and fees.
Only the children and surviving spouses of deceased veterans qualify for this benefit. The servicemember must have died in the line of active duty after September 10, 2001. A spouse forfeits his or her eligibility if he or she remarries. Children of veterans must begin an approved program by their 33rd birthday, while a surviving spouse’s eligibility generally ends 15 years after the death.
- Beneficiary Financial Counseling Service and Online Will Preparation
For no cost, the Department of Veteran Affairs offers financial planning and online will preparation for the beneficiaries of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, Traumatic Injury Protection, Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance. These services are provided by a team of financial experts with a wide range of experience on all of the logistical details involved with end of life planning.
The VA also provides a free online will service, that allows survivors to quickly create a document without needing to retain a lawyer. All they have to do is answer a series of easy questions, and they receive a complete will that is ready to print and sign and is valid in all states. This assistance makes end of life planning significantly easier for military members and their families.