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Separating? Think About Your Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits

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As you prepare to transition out of military service, you will be required to attend a series of appointments to evaluate medical conditions you have sustained during your time in service to determine if you warrant a VA rating and possible tax-free compensation. This process is known as Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD). You can learn more about BDD Claims here. To prepare, it is recommended you document your medical history while you served. Find out how to do that on the VA website.

Why Is a VA Rating So Important?

A VA rating requires you to document your medical history, gives you priority in the VA healthcare system, proves you have a service-connected condition (which provides tax-free VA disability compensation), and can support service-connected death offering a tax-free entitlement for your surviving spouse, including VA burial allowance.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a survivor benefit your spouse or eligible child could be entitled to upon your death. For DIC to be considered, you must have a disability rating from the VA for a condition related to the cause of death listed on the death certificate. The surviving spouse is awarded DIC as a monthly tax-free benefit. Also, survivors can be entitled to a one-time VA burial reimbursement of up to $2,000, and they must apply for it.

VA compensation for the Veteran and surviving spouse are COLA-adjusted each year. Often, Veterans are hesitant to file a VA disability claim, but there are Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) ready to serve you with filing a claim. If you don’t use the benefits you have earned, you’re cutting off access to potential financial and medical support for you and your family. Here is a list of accredited VSOs.

AAFMAA Membership Provides VA Support

As part of your AAFMAA Membership, your survivors have access to our Survivor Assistance Services (SAS) team. Upon your passing, our SAS team can help recognize benefits your survivors are entitled to and will prepare paperwork to file for these benefits. Download our Military Survivor Pre-Planning Checklist to ensure your family has all the information they will need to claim your benefits and handle your loss when you pass.

For more information on additional topics to consider in preparing for military separation, please see the following:

If you have questions, please contact an AAFMAA Member Benefits representative at 888-691-4574 option 2, then option 2 again or [email protected].

When you’re ready to retire, or to consider it, check out our 7 Decisions Before You Retire series for information about other choices you’ll need to make.