How a Surviving Spouse Can Use the VA Home Loan Benefit and other VA Survivor s Benefits

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1 How a Surviving Spouse Can Use the VA Home Loan Benefit and other VA Survivor s Benefits From the Book, What Every Veteran Needs to Know by Peter Van Brady At SoCalVAHomes, we have a long history of working with active military and Veterans to overcome their challenges when hoping to achieve homeownership. We share the joy and fulfillment of helping service members purchase a home using a VA loan, but at times we also have the privilege of speaking to a surviving spouse of a Veteran who has passed away due to a service-related injury or illness. The following is an overview on Surviving Spouse Benefits, provided for your information. There is a monetary benefit, paid monthly, to those survivors who qualify. It is called DIC, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. The basic monthly tax-free rate is $ Beneficiaries include spouses, dependent children even parents. To qualify to receive DIC, you have to be deemed eligible. The survivor of the Veteran must have died due to a service-related injury or illness. A Survivor may also be eligible if the Veteran died in a way that was not related to his or her service if the Veteran had been getting VA Disability for total disability continuously for ten years (or five years if their active duty ended 5 years ago). Spouses are also considered to be an eligible survivor if you and the Veteran were married for 1 year or longer and the spouses lived together continuously until the Veteran s death (or had the couple been separated, the separation was not the survivor s fault) and you didn t remarry. Other eligible survivors include the deceased Veteran s unmarried children who are under 18, or, adult children who are if they are in school. Adult children who were severely disabled under the age of 18 who remain disabled might be entitled to survivors benefits under DIC. 1

2 Parents may also be eligible if they were financially dependant on their deceased child. The DIC allows for the aforementioned monthly payment plus additional allowances paid for every dependent child under 18. Additionally, there is an Aid and Attendance allowance. Also, a Housebound benefit is available if the survivor is unable to leave their house due to a permanent disability. Death Pension The Death Pension is a tax-free benefit that is paid monthly to those who are eligible. To be eligible, one needs to be the spouse and/or the dependent children of a Veteran whose service was during wartime who is now deceased. For eligibility, the deceased must have served at least 90 days (including 1 day at least during a period of war). 90 days is the minimum whereas the general rule is to have served for 24 months or more or the complete period of active duty for which they were ordered. The Civilian Health and Medical Program and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). CHAMPVA is health care (cost sharing) program that covers health care services as well as medical supplies. Eligibility requirements are If one is a spouse or a child of a disabled service member who is totally disabled due to a service-related injury or illness. If one is a spouse or child of a deceased Veteran who died as a result of a service related injury or illness. If one is the spouse or child of a deceased service member whose death occurred in active service. SURVIVORS AND DEPENDENTS EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE (DEA) Disability and Death Benefits are the benefits for which no one wants to be eligible. To qualify, one has faced tragedy. Still, stoically moving forward, many survivors and dependants have some amazing programs available to them. Eligibility: survivors and dependents of 2

3 Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled as a result of service-related injury or illness OR who passed during active duty. Children must be between 18-26, spouses need to access benefit 10 years following eligibility (or 20 years if service member died in active duty). At A Glance: Payments and Programs and covered $1,018 paid monthly to Survivor/dependents/student Program lasts up to 45 months College Technical Business Vocational Certification Apprenticeship On the job training Work-study Tutorial assistance The other educational benefit available to survivors and dependents is The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship). Eligibility is for children of service member who died during active duty after 9/10/01. In 2015, the Fry Scholarship was made available for surviving spouses of service members who died during active duty. At A Glance: Payments and Programs and covered Full tuition and free payment for in-state schools OR $20, a year for private institutions. Stipend for Books and Supplies. Up to $1000 annually. Monthly Housing Allowance Program lasts for 36 months, over a 15 year period College 3

4 Technical Business Vocational Certification Apprenticeship On the job training Work-study Tutorial assistance Vocational flight training Burial Benefits Another way the VA helps with the financial strain and need to honor military members is by providing various burial benefits to families of service members and veterans. The benefit is in the form of partial reimbursement of funeral and burial costs. Eligibility: Eligibility for a VA burial allowance may be available if the Veteran Was not dishonorably discharged Died of a service-related disability Was receiving compensation or a VA pension Was entitled to compensation or a VA pension yet decided against reducing hir disability pay or military retirement Died in a nursing facility that is under VA contract Died in a VA hospital Had a spouse/child/other pay for a Veteran s funeral or burial Has a family who was not reimbursed by another entity such as an employer or another government agency. At A Glance: Payouts 4

5 Service-related death Burial expenses up to $2000 paid by VA For deaths before 9/10/2001, $1500 paid by VA Partial costs of moving the deceased (if buried in a national cemetery) might be reimbursed Non service-related death Funeral and burial expenses up to $734 paid by VA, if Veteran died in a VA hospital Funeral and burial expenses up to $300 if NOT in a VA hospital Plot-interment allowance of $734 if not interred at a national cemetery. Fees for transportation of remains might be reissued, had the deceased been under nursing home care or had been in a VA hospital HONORS The Department of Defense Military Funeral honors fallen military members (active or retired) with funeral honors, if requested, at no cost, under the banner of Honoring Those Who Serve. Government standards plainly states all eligible Veterans can receive basic Military Funeral Honors, if requested, at no cost. It is actually an amazing display of gratitude provided by our nation. The Veteran s family can request the Military Funeral Honors for the eligible Veteran at least two uniformed service members, with one or more military personnel representing their branch of service in which the Veteran served: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard. The Veterans Service Organization confirms that, at a minimum, the honor guard detail will include the flag ceremony of presenting the folding of an American flag to family at the committal service. Movingly, a bugler (or sometimes a recording) will play Taps, the iconic American music that has been used as a standard for US military funerals since Eligibility for Military Funeral Honors include service members who, at the time of death Were on active duty OR were in the Selected Reserve 5

6 Veterans who were discharged under conditions that were anything but dishonorable Had served one term or more of enlistment or period in the Selected Reserve VA HOME LOANS The outstanding benefit, the VA loan, discussed previously throughout these chapters, may be provided even to the Veteran s survivors. To begin the loan process, a survivor must first obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Surviving spouses may apply by mail using VA Form , Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Edibility or call for the form at Mail the completed form to: VA Loan Edibility Center Attn. COE (262) PO Box Decatur, GA Good luck! Additional Benefits available to survivors: Bereavement Counseling Grief counseling is available to spouses, children and parents of those who die in service. Beneficiary Financial Counseling Service A financial counseling service is available to eligible survivors who have Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) and those who have Service members Group Life Insurance (SGLI). Educational and Vocational Counseling Guidance is available to advise you on how to use the dependants educational assistance benefit. Your Veterans Benefits Administration is a source of the many to apply for services. 6

7 If you are interested in any further information on the Home Loan aspects of the VA Survivor Benefit, contact a professional at SoCalVAHomes at 1 (888) Copyright 2015 by Peter Van L. Brady All rights reserved. 7

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