No one likes to spend time talking about the possibility of their own death, much less planning for it with their family. Adding the complexity of understanding how your military benefits factor in makes it even more challenging. But at some point, you have to have the conversation — no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
Fortunately, AAFMAA can help you prepare your family when the time comes. We are ready for your family when they need us most.
1. There Is a Lot to Know
There are a wide variety of financial benefits and services for survivors of Veterans who die due to a service-connected condition. Please note, each of these programs has specific eligibility requirements.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax-free monetary benefit for qualified survivors of servicemembers who died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related injury, disease or disability.
- Survivors pension or death pension is a tax-free monetary benefit for qualified low-income, un-remarried surviving spouses and/or unmarried children of deceased Veterans with wartime service.
- GI Bill Programs:
- Burial or inurnment and gravesite benefits
2. The Rules Can Be Complex
When a servicemember dies, in order for the family to claim VA survivor benefits, their death certificate must adequately list the cause of death as related to a service-connected disability. Your spouse should ensure that the service connected condition is clearly stated on the death certificate in order to qualify for survivor entitlements.
3. Call AAFMAA, We’re Here to Help
Your family members do not have to do this alone. AAFMAA’s hallmark Survivor Assistance Services stands ready to take care of our members’ families when the time comes. Servicemembers join AAFMAA because they know that our Survivor Assistance Services will treat their loved ones with care, compassion and respect after they’re gone.
AAFMAA helps your family when they need it most by taking immediate action to:
- Notify VA and/or DFAS of your passing
- Assist survivors with all necessary forms and applications — we know exactly how to fill them out
- Initiate AAFMAA life insurance claim with the claimant(s) and discuss settlement options
Beyond having the conversation, below are some actions YOU should take to ensure we have what we need to provide the best service to your family:
- Keep your personal and family information up to date in the AAFMAA Member Center.
- Ensure critical documents are stored in your Digital Vault at AAFMAA. These include birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, DD214’s, and VA award letters depicting the conditions that VA has awarded as service connected.
- Keep your beneficiary designation current with the contact information.
- Ensure your loved ones know where to locate your important records, we recommend a fire-proof safe in your home.
AAFMAA Members should call AAFMAA Member Benefits at 1-888-670-7390 for more information about your particular situation and how we might be able to help.
This article was originally published March 17, 2015.