Veterans of the United States military are awarded for their service with benefits regarding taxing, educational opportunities and other forms of support. The spouses of these veterans may also be eligible for certain benefits, as a way to say thank you for their sacrifice during the service of their husbands and wives.
Survivor's and Dependent's Educational Assistance
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs offers the Survivor's and Dependent's Educational program for eligible spouses of veterans.
The program offers up to 45 months of educational benefits that can be used toward degree and certification programs, apprenticeships and on-the-job training experiences.
To be eligible for the program you must be the spouse of a veteran who died or is permanently disabled from service in the American military, a veteran who died as a result of a service-connected injury or disability or a veteran who is currently in treatment for a service-based injury or disability and will be released from service because of it.
These benefits also extend to children of these veterans, and to spouses or children of veterans who are missing in action or captured in the line of duty by a foreign power or hostile enemy.
Spousal benefits within this program end 10 years from the date of the veteran's death, or from the time that the Department of Veterans Affairs finds you eligible for the program. Veteran's Affairs must also approve your program as eligible for the benefits.
Survivor Benefit Plan
Retired veterans from the United States military receive retirement pay from the government. However, when the veteran dies, those payments stop, regardless of the veteran's family situations; this often leaves spouses without income.
The Survivor Benefit Plan allows veterans to ensure that surviving spouses will receive payments in the event of the veteran's death. Enrollment requires a monthly premium that depends on the level of benefit plan the veteran selects. Full coverage means that spouses will continue to receive 55 percent of the veteran's retirement pay after the veteran's death.
To qualify for the program, a spouse must be a widow or widower who was married to the veteran at the time of his enrollment in the armed forces, or for at least one year before the veteran's death.
Benefits can also be expanded to cover children and former spouses. The program includes a cost of living adjustment to make up for inflation.
Aside from the governmental benefits provided to spouses, each state provides a different set of benefits for veterans and their spouses.
For example, Wyoming provides free tuition and fees to state colleges for the spouse of a deceased veteran whose death was connected to service in the United States military. Alabama provides free tuition, books and fees at state colleges or universities for up to 36 months for the widow or widower of a veteran who was killed in the line of duty or died as a result of a disability caused by active service.