21 Nov 5 Types of VA Benefits You Might Not Even Know About
If you are a veteran of the Armed Forces or a loved one of a veteran, then you probably already know about many of the excellent programs provided by the federal government, such as the Montgomery GI Bill and VA Disability Compensation. What you may not know is that surviving spouses and children of deceased veterans may also be eligible for other types of VA benefits under certain special programs. Here are 5 of the most important VA benefits you may not even know about.
Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Under some limited circumstances, a veteran’s surviving spouse can qualify for continued benefits. Here is how it works. First, the veteran must have died from a service-connected injury or disease, on active duty or during active training duty. If so, the surviving spouse must meet one of the following criteria:
- Married to someone who died on active duty or during training
- Married to the veteran before January 1, 1957
- Married to the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of service that is related to the illness or injury that ultimately caused or contributed to the death of the veteran
- Married to the veteran for at least one year
AND at least one of the following:
- Had a child with the veteran
- Lived with the veteran (without any interruption) until the veteran died (if separated at death, the spouse is not the reason for the separation)
- Is not remarried
Effective 12/1/2016, the basic rate for DIC benefits was $1,257.95. There are additional amounts payable for minor children and other factors. Children can potentially receive this benefit as well, provided they are not included in calculating the spouse’s benefit.
Most surviving spouses will not qualify for DIC benefits, because it is designed to compensate those whose spouses are killed on duty or who die from a condition acquired during their service. For spouses who cannot qualify under the DIC program, there is a survivor’s pension. This is a “needs-based” benefit program, designed to help low-income spouses. It requires that the veteran served during wartime and has a discharge that is other than dishonorable. The VA provides an example of how the program can help some spouses.
Funeral & Burial Benefits
Although it is not nearly enough to cover all the expenses of a proper burial in most situations, the VA does offer this type of VA benefit to help with final expenses. The VA generally pays the following, depending on the veteran’s cause of death:
- If the veteran dies because of a service-connected illness or injury, the VA pays $2,000.00 (after 9/11/2001)
- If the veteran’s death is unrelated to service, the VA will pay up to $762 for burial and funeral expenses and $762 for plot interment. This assumes the veteran is in a VA facility at the time of death. Otherwise, the amounts are reduced to $300 each.
The VA provides a more comprehensive list of eligibility requirements here.
Veterans Life Insurance
Recognizing that many veterans struggle with health problems that make them uninsurable by traditional policies, the VA has created several options for veterans to obtain life insurance. However, each has a specific limitation and set of eligibility requirements. Every veteran should consult his or her own attorney or financial planner to determine whether these types of VA benefits would be wise in their unique situation.
State Benefits and Tax Exemptions
Finally, many people are shocked to learn that their own states offer tremendous benefits for veterans. In fact, permanently disabled veterans may receive a property tax exemption, as well as former POWs and Medal of Honor recipients. Check the state for a list of other available benefits.
Experienced VA Disability Lawyers In South Carolina
If you believe you may be entitled to VA benefits (whether you are a veteran, spouse or child of a veteran), you should contact a VA-Accredited Attorney who can walk you through the various benefits programs that may help your family. Klok Law Firm LLC represents disabled South Carolina veterans and their families.
Contact us today for an initial consultation.