Having a loved one serve in the United States Military can be difficult for any family, but losing a loved one during their time of service can be a family’s worst fear. To help families during their time of loss, and to help them maintain their quality of life after the departure of their loved one, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers Survivors’ Benefits.
What are Survivor Benefits?
To dependents of veterans there are a wide variety of benefits ranging from educational assistance to financial assistance that are designed to maintain and enhance the quality of their lives after the death of their service member. The Department of Veteran Affairs, the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, and the Social Security Administration each offer their own type of assistance. Some of the different benefits offered by these departments include, but are not limited to;
- Burial Assistance
- Life Insurance through Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
- Dependency Indemnity Compensation
- Survivor Benefit Plan
- Social Security Benefits
- VA Home Loan
- Educational Assistance
Who is Eligible for Survivor’s Benefits?
Generally, the Primary First of Kin, or PNOK, is eligible for any type of Survivors’ Benefits offered by the federal government. Before your service member departs for active duty, they are required to fill out a form in which they have to write down their PNOK. This person is the individual who will most likely receive benefits, and will be the first to be notified in the case of injury or death. Individuals who are normally eligible for Survivor’s Benefits include:
- Surviving spouse
- minor children
- dependent parents
Depending on circumstances, step-children and/ or grandchildren may also be eligible for benefits. To obtain your rightful benefits, you will need to submit an application along with your decedent’s name, birth certificate, Social Security number, and service information; and your birth certificate, Social Security number, and marriage certificate. If you have any questions regarding the benefits you may or may not be eligible, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs. They have representatives ready to help, and to guide you in the right direction.
Photo thanks to stuwillis under creative common license on Flickr.