You might be entitled to some benefits when you go through the horrific experience of losing your spouse. If your spouse was a veteran with active duty military service, the government provides some benefits for the surviving spouse.
Before you contact the Veteran’s Affairs Office, it’s a good idea to understand the benefits you might be entitled to. Let’s look at some of the common questions surrounding the question, what benefits do spouses of diseased veterans get?
Does the Government Provide for Spouses of Deceased Veterans?
The short answer to this question is yes. There are spouse benefits offered for the surviving spouse of a veteran that suffers death during active duty and in a few other circumstances.
Understanding the benefits you can get as a surviving spouse is important. There are several different benefits you might qualify for, including:
- Health Care through the CHAMPVA Program or the TRICARE Program
- Education and Training, including help paying for job training or schooling
- Home Loan Programs to purchase, repair, refinance, or build a home
- Financial Counseling to help with paying a VA-backed loan
- Life Insurance benefits through the Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage options
- Burial Benefits, including memorial items and pre-need eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery
- Survivor’s pension provides monthly pension payments
- VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or DIC benefits offer tax-free monetary payments
These benefits are provided for the surviving spouse of a veteran, and all come with different eligibility requirements. Understanding all the benefits you might qualify for as a surviving spouse is important. While the most common benefit is the survivor’s pension, there are other benefits you can use for burial, health care, and helping in other ways.
What Type of Survivors Pension can I Receive?
The survivor’s pension you receive will depend on some specific factors. This is also known as a death pension. A VA survivors’ pension will provide monthly payments if you are a qualified surviving spouse. This should not be confused with the DIC benefits, which differ from a survivor’s pension.
To be eligible for this benefit, at least one of the following must be true:
- The veteran began active duty on or before September 7, 1980, and was a service member on active duty for at least 90 days with at least one day of wartime service.
- The veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, and has at least 24 months of active duty service with at least one day of wartime service. Some exceptions do apply to this qualification.
- The veteran was an officer that started active duty after October 16, 1981, and hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months.
Along with the requirements above, your yearly family income and net worth will have to meet the limits set by Congress. Your home, car, and most home furnishings will not be counted in your net worth.
The wartime periods that are recognized for this benefit include:
- Mexican Border period from May 9, 1916, to April 5, 1917
- World War I from April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918
- World War II from December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946
- Korean Conflict from June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955
- Vietnam War Era from November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975
- Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through a future date that will b set by presidential proclamation or by law
You can receive a survivor’s pension if you qualify as a surviving spouse.
VA Survivors Pension Rates
The rate for your survivor’s pension will depend on the difference between your countable income and the limit set by Congress. The limit set by Congress is called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate or MAPR.
Your countable income is the amount you earn, which will include your salary, payments from investments, and retirement payments. It can also include any income you may get from dependents in your household. Expenses, such as non-reimbursable medical expenses may reduce your countable income.
The MAPR amount will be the maximum VA pension amount payable to a Veteran, surviving spouse, or child set by Congress. This varies based on how many dependents you will have, if you’re Housebound, or if you require Aid or Attendance benefits. It changes yearly based on a cost-of-living increase.
It’s also important to note that there is a net worth limit for eligibility for this benefit. The current limit is $138,489 and can change from year to year.
The yearly survivor’s pension amount will range from $12,941 to $19,438, based on your specific situation, including your dependents.
Will the Cost of a Funeral for the Veteran be Covered?
With the high cost of funerals, you probably want to know if a funeral for a veteran will be covered. There are a few things to look at:
What will Veteran’s Affairs Cover for Burial and Funeral Costs?
The VA benefit for burial will cover some of the costs, but often it will not cover all of the costs. This is paid through a burial and plot allowance for eligible veteran family members.
The burial allowance offers a tax-free benefit that will automatically be paid for veterans of the armed forces that have suffered death. You will have to provide the Veterans Affairs Office with receipts to show the actual cost paid.
The actual benefit amount will depend on how the service member’s death occurred.
- If the death happened during hospitalization by the VA, you get an $828 burial allowance and $828 for a burial plot.
- If the death is service-connected, the VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 and may provide reimbursement for some transportation costs.
- If the death is not service-connected, the burial allowance will be $300 with $828 provided for a burial plot.
- For any indigent veteran with no next of kin, the VA will provide a casket or cremation urn for interment in a national, state, or tribal veterans cemetery.
You can also get a death benefit payment of $255 from the Social Security Administration. These amounts will likely change every year.
All veterans with other-than-dishonorable discharges can gain access to free burial in a national VA cemetery. However, space is limited, so the VA suggests you request pre-determination of burial eligibility to avoid delay.
Surviving spouses are often eligible to be buried next to the veteran at no or no cost. A marker will also be provided.
Can I get DIC Benefits as a Surviving Spouse?
Yes, a dependency and indemnity compensation or DIC benefit will be paid to the surviving spouse of a military service member who died in the line of duty or died from a service-connected illness or condition during active duty. The DIC benefit often helps the surviving spouse more than any other death benefit.
DIC benefits offer monthly tax-free payments to the surviving spouse for the rest of their life. The base rate is $1,437.66 and can go up based on the situation.
How can I Access this Help?
Applying for health care benefits, a survivor’s pension, and the many other benefits through the veteran’s service can be overwhelming. You might not get all the benefits you’re eligible for if you don’t understand what you’re applying for.
Trajector provides the assistance you need when applying for surviving spouse benefits. We can help you navigate the entire process, from choosing the VA form you need to fill out to advising you of the benefits you should apply for.