If you are the spouse or child of a veteran or service member, you may be entitled to benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Serving your country isn’t just a role service members take on. It’s a role the entire family tackles. Not only do you rely upon your loved one for income, but you take on additional household responsibilities when they are away on duty.
The VA offers veterans’ spouses, dependents and survivors support and benefits in these eight categories:
Disability Compensation – The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation program is available for surviving spouses and dependent children of veterans or service members who passed away during service or due to a service-connected disability. This benefit is meant to provide monetary relief to those who suffered economic loss due to a service member’s death.
Education Training – Service members and veterans who do not use their educational benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill may be able to transfer all or some of their unused benefits to their spouse or dependent children. The VA also has The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program, which is available to eligible dependents of veterans who were permanently and totally disabled due to service or to those whose loved one passed away in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001. The Fry Scholarship is also available for children of service members who died in the line of duty after Sept. 10, 2001.
Employment Services – The VA offers career counseling to family members caring for a service-disabled veteran. The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program will help you make a career choice based on your interests and talents, assist in enrolling you in other VA benefits you may qualify for and provide academic or adjustment counseling.
Health Care – The VA has a variety of health programs available to eligible veteran spouses, dependents and survivors. These programs include the Civilian Health and Medical Program, Spina Bifida, Children of Women Vietnam Veterans, Foreign Medical Program and Caregivers.
Home Loans and Housing-Related Assistance – If you are the surviving spouse of a veteran or service member, you may qualify for a mortgage loan under one of the VA’s three home finance programs: purchase loans, cash-out refinance home loans and interest rate reduction refinance loans.
Life Insurance – If your spouse recently left the military, you have 120 days to convert your spousal life insurance coverage under Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) to an individual plan with a private insurance company without proof of good health. You may also qualify for the VA’s beneficiary financial counseling and online will preparation services if you are listed as a beneficiary under one of its many life insurance programs.
Memorial Benefits – The VA also provides eligible veterans’ spouses and dependents with a burial plot in one of its 131 national cemeteries. In addition to a burial plot next to your veteran, the VA will provide you with an inscribed headstone and maintenance of the gravesite.
Pension – If you are the survivor of a wartime veteran, you may qualify to receive a pension from the VA. However, you must meet the annual family income requirements set by Congress to be eligible.
These benefits are meant to support our heros’ families, and you should take full advantage of them if you qualify. Your loved one served not only to protect his or her country, but to protect you as well.
For more information about these benefits and their eligibility requirements, please visit the VA’s website or your local regional office.