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FAQs About Essential Documents Every Military Family Needs


AAFMAA Member Benefits’ recent webinar, “Essential Documents Every Military Family Needs,” highlighted the many vital documents AAFMAA needs to support survivors after a Member passes away. The following FAQs address questions submitted by webinar attendees. We recommend you view the webinar first, then, if you have any questions not answered below, email a Member Benefits representative at [email protected] or call us at 888-862-5932, select option 2, then option 2 again and we’ll be happy to help.

Essential Documents and Information

  • DD-214
  • VA Disability Awards
  • Latest Retired Pay Statement
  • Marriage/Divorce Documents
  • Birth Certificates (& death cert. if applicable)
  • Legal Documents (Wills, POA, Trusts, Estate Plans)
  • Social Security numbers for Spouse, Dependents, Beneficiaries * Current Social Security, Statement (SSA.gov)
  • Insurance Policies (Beneficiary Name, SSN, Birth Date, Contact Information)
  • Financial Statements, Accounts, Passwords

If you are an AAFMAA Member:

  • Provide your spouse and/or immediate family with AAFMAA Survivor Assistance Services contact information and let them know to contact AAFMAA immediately upon death
  • Be sure to keep your personal, military, and insurance information current with AAFMAA

Keep your important documents in a safe place and let your family know where they are and how to access them

I have documents stored in AAFMAA’s physical and/or Digital Vault. How can my survivors/executor request them?

Upon an AAFMAA Member’s death, their survivors/executor should contact an AAFMAA Survivor Assistance Services (SAS) representative at 888-862-5932, select option 2, then press 1. We will provide all the documents they need that are stored with AAFMAA. SAS will assist the surviving family by promptly notifying government agencies and applying for any eligible benefits and entitlements. Keeping the files stored with AAFMAA up to date will help ensure this process is efficient and easy.

Does the VA spousal benefit only go into effect after I pass away?

The spousal benefit Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is for a surviving spouse and/or eligible children of a deceased Veteran whose death was as a result of a service-connected condition. It is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to the eligible surviving spouse or child. DIC is a continual monthly benefit paid after the death of the Veteran. A surviving spouse who remarries before age 57 is no longer entitled to continue to receive DIC.

Is my surviving spouse automatically granted a service-connected death benefit if I am rated at 100%? What if I die from a non-service-connected condition?

Survivors can qualify for service-connected death benefits such as Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the VA if the Veteran’s death meets certain criteria if the Veteran died from a non-service-related injury or disease, but was receiving OR and was entitled to receive VA Compensation for a service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling

  • For at least 10 years immediately before death, OR
  • Since the Veteran's release from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death.

If I have a service-connected disability, such as Type II Diabetes, how can my spouse ensure this disability is added to my death certificate?

When the Veteran passes away, the surviving spouse or family can communicate with the physician, hospital, hospice or medical personnel to ensure the language on the death certificate is specific enough to reflect the same language as the VA service-connected condition or presumptive service condition. This is crucial in qualifying for service-connected death benefits from the VA.

Veterans should make sure their spouse, family or physician is familiar with any VA service-connected condition(s) the Veteran is rated for. If the Veteran falls into one of the “presumptive condition” groups, where specific disabilities are automatically considered to be caused by military service, make sure the Veteran’s family is familiar with the list of qualifying presumptive conditions. For example, if the Veteran was in Vietnam, their family should be familiar with presumptive conditions caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Presumptive conditions can be found on the VA website.

For further information, contact an AAFMAA Member Benefits representative at 888-862-5932, select option 2, then option 2 again anytime.