Payments and Benefits for Survivors

There are many federal benefits which are available to survivors of certain veterans.

Veterans Life Insurance Programs
Service members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

SGLI premiums are currently $0.065 per $1,000 of insurance, regardless of the member’s age, up to a maximum of $400,000 worth of coverage.

SGLI rates are subject to change. Check out www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/SGLI/sgliPremiums.htm for the current rates.

Traumatic Service members’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI)
All service members and veterans who are enrolled in the Service members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program are automatically covered for Traumatic Service members’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) and pay a monthly premium of $1. TSGLI provides financial assistance to covered members during their recovery period from a serious traumatic injury. Coverage ranges from $25,000 to $100,000, depending on the nature of the injury. For a list of payments, see www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/popups/ScheduleOfLosses.htm.

Family Service members’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)
FSGLI provides a maximum of $100,000 of insurance coverage for spouses, not to exceed the amount of SGLI the insured member has, and $10,000 for dependent children.

FSGLI is a service member benefit for which the member pays the premium and is the beneficiary of the policy. Monthly rates depend on the amount of coverage selected and the age of the spouse. See www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/FSGLI/fsgliPremiums.htm for a table of current rates.

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI)
Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is a program of post-separation insurance that allows a veteran to convert his SGLI coverage to renewable term insurance.

VGLI coverage is issued in multiples of $10,000 up to $400,000.

Premiums can range from as low as $0.80 per month to a whopping $1,800 per month. For a list of current premium rates, see www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/VGLI/VGLI%20rates.htm.

Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI)
Service-Disabled Veterans’ Insurance (S-DVI) is designed specifically for veterans with service-connected disabilities. The maximum amount of coverage is $10,000.

You can apply for S-DVI if you meet the following four criteria:

  • You were released from active duty on or after April 25, 1951, with a discharge that the VA considers to be other than dishonorable.
  • You were rated for a service-connected disability.
  • You are in good health except for any service-connected conditions.
  • You apply within two years from the date the VA grants your service-connected disability.

Monthly premiums depend on your age, the amount of coverage you elect, and the specific insurance plan you choose. You can review the current rates at www.insurance.va.gov/inForceGliSite/forms/29-9.pdf.

If you’re eligible, you can apply for S-DVI by completing a VA Form 29-4364, Application for Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance. You can obtain this form from any VA regional office (see Appendix B for locations). You can also download the form from the VA’s Web site at www.insurance.va.gov/inForceGliSite/forms/29-4364.pdf.

Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI)
Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) is a life insurance program designed to pay off the home mortgages of severely disabled veterans in the event of their death.

The amount of VMLI coverage equals the amount of the outstanding mortgage balance still owed by the veteran or $90,000, whichever is the lesser amount. VMLI is term insurance that decreases as the mortgage balance is reduced by regular payments.

The VA has an online premium calculator at insurance.va.gov/inForceGliSite/VMLICalc/VMLICalc.asp.

If you’re an eligible veteran you can apply for this insurance program by completing VA Form 29-8636, Application for Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance. You can obtain this form at any VA regional office (see Appendix B), or online at www.insurance.va.gov/inForceGliSite/forms/29-8636.pdf.

Survivor Benefit Program (SBP)
The Department of Defense (DOD), not the VA, manages the Survivor Benefit Program (SBP). When the retiree dies, the surviving spouse or minor children get an annuity equal to 55 percent of the covered retirement pay.

Filing a Life Insurance Claim
Claims for veteran’s life insurance programs are filed with the VA. You file a claim for SBP with the DOD.

Veteran’s Life Insurance Claims
To file a death claim for a veteran’s life insurance program, you need to complete VA Form 29-4125, Claim for One Sum Payment. The form is available at any VA regional office (see Appendix B) and online at www.insurance.va.gov/inForceGliSite/forms/29-4125.pdf.

Submit the claim, along with a copy of the death certificate showing date and cause of death, by mail to Department of Veterans Affairs, Regional Office and Insurance Center, P.O. Box 7208, Philadelphia, PA 19101, or fax it to 888-748-5822.

You can call 800-669-8477 for assistance in completing VA insurance claims.

SBP claims
To report the death of a military retiree and make a claim for SBP, you should contact the Annuitant Pay section of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). The contact information is Defense Finance and Accounting Service, U.S. Military Annuitant Pay, P.O. Box 7131, London, KY 40742-7131; phone 800-321-1080 or 216-522-5955; fax 800-982-8459

Understanding Death Pensions
The VA will pay a death pension to a spouse who has not remarried or to an unmarried child of a deceased wartime veteran. You may be eligible to receive a VA death pension if all the following conditions are met:

  • You are the unmarried spouse or unmarried child of a deceased veteran. To be eligible, a child must be under the age of 18, be in school and under 23, or have been incapable of self support before the age of 18.
  • You have an annual “countable income” less than the limit set by law

The deceased veteran served at least one day during a period of war. For the purposes of this benefit, periods of war include:

  • World War I: April 6, 1917, through July 2, 1921
  • World War II: December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946
  • Korean conflict: June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam era: The period beginning February 28, 1961, and ending May 7, 1975, for service within Vietnam, and August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975, in all other cases
  • Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date yet to be determined

The deceased veteran joined the military on or before September 7, 1980, and served on active duty for at least 90 days, or joined the military after September 7, 1980, and served on active duty for at least 24 months or (for National Guard and Reserve members) for the full period called to active duty.

The deceased veteran was discharged from the military with a discharge characterization that the VA does not consider dishonorable.

To apply for the VA death pension, you need to complete VA Form 21-534, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by Surviving Spouse or Child. The form is available at any VA regional office (see Appendix B) or online at www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-534-ARE.pdf.

Mail the completed form to the VA regional office which has responsibility for the state in which you live. Appendix B lists the addresses. If available, attach copies of dependency records (marriage or children’s birth certificates).

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Dependency Indemnity Compensation, or DIC, is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors — the spouse, unmarried child, and in some cases, parent — of certain deceased veterans.

The deceased veteran must meet one of the following criteria:

  • A veteran who died on active duty
  • A veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease
  • A veteran whose death resulted from a non-service-related injury or disease, and who was receiving, or 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
    • Since the veteran’s release from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death
    • For at least one year before death if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999

Eligible spouses include those who meet one of the following conditions:

  • Married the veteran before January 1, 1957
  • Was married to a service member who died on active duty
  • Married the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the veteran’s death began or was aggravated
  • Was married to the veteran for at least one year
  • Had a child with the veteran and lived with the veteran continuously until the veteran’s death or, if separated, was not at fault for the separation
  • Spouses who remarry before the age of 57 lose their entitlement to benefits, unless that marriage ends. However, due to a change in the law, this doesn’t apply to those who remarry on or after December 16, 2003.

Making Use of Education Benefits
Survivors’ & Dependents’ Educational Assistance is an education benefit for eligible spouses and children of certain veterans. Eligible persons can receive up to 45 months of full-time or equivalent benefits for:

  • College, business, technical, or vocational courses; high school diploma or GED; independent study; or distance learning courses
  • Correspondence courses (spouses only); apprenticeship/on-the-job training
  • Remedial, deficiency, and refresher training (in some cases)
  • The cost of tests for licenses or certifications needed to get, keep, or advance in a job

To be eligible for this education program, you must be the son, daughter, or spouse of:

  • A veteran who is rated by the VA with a 100 percent service-connected disability.
  • A veteran who died from any cause while such a service-connected disability was in existence.
  • A service member missing in action or captured in the line of duty by a hostile force.
  • A service member forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by a foreign government or power.
  • A service member who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-connected, 100 percent permanent disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability.

After finding a program approved for VA training, complete VA Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance. The form is available at VA regional offices (see Appendix B) and online at www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-22-5490-ARE.pdf.

You should submit the form to the VA regional office that serves the state where you will train. Appendix B lists the addresses.

How much does the VA pay?
The amount the VA pays is based on the type of training program and training time.

Full time means taking at least 12 credit hours in a term, or 24 clock hours per week. Three-quarters time is defined as at least 9 credit hours in a term, or 18 clock hours per week. Half time means taking at least 6 credit hours in a term, or 12 clock hours per week. One-quarter time means taking at least 3 credit hours in a term, or 6 clock hours per week.

Rates change October 1 of each year. For current rates, see www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/rates.htm.

VA Medical Care for Your Family
Family members of certain veterans may be eligible for a medical insurance program managed by the VA. The program is called the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The CHAMPVA program covers most healthcare services and supplies that are medically and psychologically necessary.

To be eligible for CHAMPVA, you must be in one of these categories:

  • The spouse or child of a veteran who has been rated as permanently 100 percent disabled for a service-connected disability
  • The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability
  • The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who was at the time of death rated permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability
  • The surviving spouse or child of a military member who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct

Eligible children include those unmarried children who are under the age of 18, or age 23 if attending school, and those who became mentally or physically incapable of self-care prior to age 18.

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can enroll in CHAMPVA by completing VA Form 10-10d, Application for CHAMPVA Benefits. The form can be obtained from any VA regional office (see Appendix B) or downloaded online at www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/vha-10-10d-fill.pdf.