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Military Spouses & Dependents

Essential Documents Every Military Family Needs


Military families have a unique lifestyle in which they face exceptional challenges. That makes it vital for you to be ready for any changes that arise, and to have the correct essential documentation available when handling a servicemember’s family affairs. AAFMAA’s experience serving our military families has helped us compile the following list of essential documents and information you should collect in one place in case you need it at any given moment.

Essential Documents and Information:

  • DD-214 and or Discharge Papers
  • VA Rating Decision and Disability Awards (Must have all disability conditions)
  • Latest Retired Pay or Leave and Earning Statement
  • Marriage Certificates/Divorce Documents for both the service member and their spouse
  • Birth and/or death certificates for dependent family members
  • Legal Documents (Powers of Attorney, Wills, Trusts, Estate Plans)
  • Social Security numbers for Spouse, Dependents, Beneficiaries
  • Life Insurance Policies to include the Company contact information, Beneficiary Name, SSN and Date of Birth
  • Financial Statements, Accounts, Passwords

If you are an AAFMAA Member:

Be sure to keep your personal, military, and insurance information current with AAFMAA by reviewing your Member Center account on a regular basis. Store your essential digital documents securely in your AAFMAA Digital Vault, connected to your Member account, for easy access. Provide your immediate family or a personal representative with AAFMAA’s Report a Death link and ensure they contact our Survivor Assistance Team at 888-885-1329 immediately upon a Member’s death. Learn more about handling a loved one’s death.

FAQs from our Members:

Why are these documents essential and why does AAFMAA need them?

Your essential documents are those related to personal benefits earned through service and other account information. They provide AAFMAA with the data we need to efficiently respond to your loved ones’ questions and they enable us to properly apply for survivor benefits and entitlements on your behalf. When the time comes, our Member and Survivor Benefits Coordinators are ready to assist you and your family to ensure your benefits and entitlements are accurate.

Are the documents required at the time of my death?

Our Military Survivor Planning Guide provides you a list of notifications that must be managed upon a Member’s death as well as the list of documents required to apply for benefits and entitlements.

I have documents stored with AAFMAA. How can my family or survivors request them?

As an AAFMAA Member, you must complete an Access Authorization Form designating persons who have access to your information and or can request documents. Once that information is in our system, we will be able to communicate with your designated loved ones about your particular documents.

What happens to an AAFMAA Member’s documents following their death?

Upon the death of an AAFMAA insured, survivors or personal representatives should report the death online and an AAFMAA Survivor Assistance Services (SAS) coordinator will be assigned to your family. Let the coordinator know you need the documents stored with AAFMAA and provide them with the name, address and phone number of the recipient.

What will the SAS Coordinator do for my family?

By keeping your Member Center profile up to date and ensuring all your essential documents are secured in your Digital Vault, the SAS Coordinator will assist your surviving family by promptly notifying government agencies and applying for any eligible benefits and entitlements.

Why does AAFMAA need my VA Rating Decisions and Award Letters?

Veterans should ensure their spouse, family or physician is familiar with any VA service-connected condition(s) for which the Veteran is rated. 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 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.

Although death is not an easy thing to think about, that's exactly why you should take time now to help your loved ones prepare now for the day you won't be here. Download our Military Survivor Checklist to ensure they are prepared for steps they will need to take to claim the benefits you've earned through your military service. If you are an AAFMAA Member, your survivors will receive full, personal assistance from our Survivor Assistance Services (SAS) team when the time comes. Visit the SAS section of the AAFMAA Member Center to download the Member version of our Military Survivor Checklist, which will inform you and your loved ones of all of the steps we will take on your behalf.

For more information on your account email [email protected].

This article was originally published November 19, 2019.