VA Widows Benefits

By Janece Bass
VA widows, survivors' benefits
The Arlington National Cemetery by Kyle Rush

Losing your loved one is hard enough without having the added worry of money on your mind. If your husband (or another loved one) served in the United States service, you may be eligible for survivors' benefits. Numerous support groups exist to help with the emotional aspect.

Applications

There are numerous applications for all the different benefits available to survivors of service members and veterans. If you are unsure whether you qualify for a particular service, go ahead and apply anyway. If you have any questions, or need any help filling out any applications, call the phone numbers on the application and ask.

Who Can Receive Benefits

Various benefits are available for the surviving spouse, minor children, dependent parents and sometimes step-children or grandchildren. Most of the benefits available are for underage children and the widow or widower.

Agencies

The Department of Veterans Affairs, or the VA, is a good place to start. You may qualify for benefits from the Department of Defense (DoD) if the decedent was on active duty. The Department of Labor (DoL) also has benefits available. Widows and widowers who reach full retirement age qualify for full benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) as well.

Information to Have Available

When you begin the process of filling out all the applications for various benefits you may qualify for, you should have certain information available, including the decedent's full name, birth certificate, Social Security number and service information. You also should have your personal documents ready, such as your birth certificate, Social Security number and your marriage certificate. Gather the same documentation for any other dependents, and have household income documentation ready as well as a list of assets and debts.

Burial Help

The VA will pay for headstones and grave markers for any man or woman who served in the United States military, no matter where in the world they are laid to rest. Any eligible dependent buried in a military post, state veteran or national cemetery also can have their headstone or marker paid for by the VA. Presidential memorial certificates can be requested for any member of the service, excluding dishonorably discharged veterans.

Death During Active Duty

There are upfront benefits as well as monthly benefits to help the widow or widower of an active-duty service member. A payment of $12,000 is made upon death, and in most cases, another $250,000 is paid by Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI). The VA, DoD and SSA also pay various monthly benefits, such as Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Social Security benefits. Medical and educational help is also available.

Death After Active Service

Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors. You also may receive a Death Pension, Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA), a home loan guarantee, medical, bereavement counseling, specialized vocational training, VA life insurance benefits and financial counseling, if your eligible. You can apply online.