Losing loved ones from active duty or military service is a unique pain point many military families share. Thus, survivors of deceased military personnel and veterans are eligible for various benefits to further compensate for a life without their loved ones. Read on to know if you are eligible for these military benefits.
Similar to deceased military spouse benefits, the death gratuity is a one-time tax-free payment of $100,000 that is allocated to the surviving family members of the following service members:
- A member who passes away while on active duty or authorized travel.
- A reservist who dies while on inactive duty or permitted travel.
- An ROTC member who dies while on permitted travel or performing an annual training assignment under instructions for more than 13 days.
- A person who has been accepted for active duty and dies on the way to or from that location or while on orders
Who Is Eligible?
- The person’s surviving spouse
- If there is no surviving spouse, any living children, as well as the descendants of any deceased children
- If none of the above applies to the person’s surviving parents or survivors
- If none of the preceding applies to the person’s estate’s properly appointed executor or an administrator.
- If none of the preceding apply, the person’s other next of kin are entitled under the laws of the person’s residency at the time of death.
Tricare is a government-managed healthcare program for members of the United States military. Active-duty families, National Guardsmen and reservists and their families, and military retirees and their families are all covered by Tricare. Among the programs are:
- Tricare Prime
- Tricare Select
- Tricare for Life
- Tricare Reserve Select
- Tricare Young Adult
- Tricare Dental Plan
Who Is Eligible?
- Be the spouse or child of a veteran who has been diagnosed with a service-connected disability and has been assessed permanently or handicapped
- Be the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died as a result of a VA-related service-connected disability, or be the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died
- Be the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who was permanently and completely disabled from a service-connected disability at the time of death, or
- You must be the surviving spouse or child of a service member who died in the line of duty and not due to wrongdoing. However, family members who fit the last condition are usually eligible for Tricare.
Survivors Benefit Plan (SBP)
As many may mistake it, the SBP is not intended to be a complete estate plan. If a service member dies while on active duty, the SBP annuity pays a payout equal to 55 percent of their retirement salary if they were retired at 100 percent disability.
However, keep in mind that the “retirement pay” amount is determined by the pay grade and length of service at the time of death. The SBP annuity of surviving spouses eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs is dollar-for-dollar offset by law.
Moreover, before claiming assistance, it’s important to know that SBP payments are taxed, whereas DIC payments are not, providing the surviving spouse extra “take-home” money.
Basic Housing Allowance (BAH)
The spouse and children of a deceased service member living in government housing can stay in government housing for 365 days or relocate to private quarters and receive a one-year Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) or Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) as applicable.
Thanks to “individual rate protection,” which was established by Congress over a decade ago, any active duty service personnel who witness a decline in BAH for their region will have their BAH safeguarded.
Individual rate protection prevents a BAH rate decrease if a service member’s status remains intact. That is to say; if you do not transfer to another unit, your BAH will not drop; instead, it will increase.
To ensure the country’s security, the U.S. government supports families who have lost loved ones. Through military benefits for military families, they are offered basic housing and financial assistance. If you’re curious about how spousal military benefits work, explore our blogs at PAGuard today.