Benefits for Wives of Deceased Veterans

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America owes a debt of gratitude not only to our nation's veterans, but also to the families who supported them during their service -- enduring the frequent moves, long separations, and many other sacrifices that come with military life. Widows and widowers of veterans -- particularly the spouses of those veterans who died while serving on active duty -- can receive many benefits.

Death Benefits

  • If the veteran owned serviceman's group life insurance, or SGLI, the beneficiary or beneficiaries will receive the full death benefit of up to $400,000. Once veterans have left service, they become eligible for Veterans Group Life Insurance. The beneficiary or beneficiaries, which typically include spouses, will receive the death benefit as specified by the veteran. These are life insurance policies that require the payment of a premium. Additionally, there is a death gratuity of $100,000, tax-free, made to the surviving spouse, if any, or to the next-closest surviving relative. No premiums are due for the veteran to be eligible for the death gratuity, and the payment is made in addition to any life insurance that may be in force.

Survivor Benefits Plan

  • When a military veteran retires with a pension, that pension dies with the service member, unless other arrangements are made in advance. However, this could leave a dependent spouse without an important source of income. The survivor benefits plan effectively converts a life-only pension for the servicemember into a joint-and-survivor annuity that pays out for as long as the service member or the spouse is alive. With the Survivor Benefits Plan, the spouse is eligible for a reduced pension benefit for life.

Educational Benefits

  • The Dependents Educational Assistance program provides financial assistance for the spouses and children of veterans who have died while in service or of service-connected illnesses or injuries. Specifically, the program provides up to 45 months of educational assistance to enable surviving spouses or children to attend an accredited university, college or vocational school.

Health Insurance

  • Surviving spouses of deceased servicemembers are entitled to continue their Tricare coverage for up to one year from the date of the death of the servicemember. After one year, they have the option to remain in Tricare by paying a premium. You can continue in Tricare as a premium-paying member until you either remarry or reach the age of 65, at which time you will be eligible for Medicare.

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