Who is eligible to receive veterans’ survivor benefits?
Our brave military men and women put their own lives on the line to protect our country. Entering the military comes with risks in all branches. Since our founding as a country, the United States has fought in at least 11 official wars and many other domestic and international military conflicts. Over 7,000 U.S. troops were killed, and thousands more injured, over the last decade. Losing your loved one to military service is devastating, and for many families, it also means financial struggle. To assist the family members of fallen or disabled soldiers, the Social Security Administration and the Veteran’s Association offers both veteran and survivor benefits.
Social Security Survivor Benefits
If your loved one who served in the military is killed, you may be eligible to receive a survivor benefit, even if the death was not service related. The children of deceased military members may receive monthly Social Security benefits up until their 18th birthday. Widows or widowers can also receive monthly SSA benefits until their youngest child attains the age of 16. These benefits are generally based on the veteran’s earnings and can be collected in addition to several other veteran’s benefits available to survivors.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Survivors of veterans may qualify for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or DIC benefits when a veteran died in the line of duty or due to a service related condition. To qualify for DIC benefits, the surviving spouse must be married to a service member who died in active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, and have a child with the veteran. Additionally, the spouse must have cohabitated with the veteran and not be remarried.
Alternatively, a surviving spouse of a veteran who was not killed in active duty could qualify if married to a veteran within 15 years of discharge from a period of service that caused the veteran’s disease or injury that eventually lead to his or her death. Similarly, the surviving spouse must have a child with the veteran, have been cohabitating, and not remarried. Children can receive separate DIC benefits if unmarried and under the age of 18.
There are several programs designed to assist the family members of deceased veterans. Applying for benefits can be a confusing and complex process, so contact a veteran’s benefits attorney for assistance.