By Barbara O’Neill
Is a death gratuity available to survivors of service members who have died?
Yes. The death gratuity is a one-time, special tax-free payment of $100,000 to eligible survivors of service members of the Armed Forces who die while on active duty or while serving in certain reserve statuses. The death gratuity is paid regardless of the cause of death.
The death gratuity is also payable if an eligible service member or former service member dies within 120 days of release or discharge from active duty, or active duty for training when the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) determines that the death resulted from injury or disease incurred or aggravated during such duty.
A service member may designate any person or persons to receive up to 100% of the death gratuity with any remaining undesignated amount payable according to a prescribed hierarchy. Service members may designate eligible survivors, at any time, by updating their DD Form 93, Record of Emergency Data. If a service member has a spouse but designates a person other than the spouse to receive all or a portion of the amount payable, the Secretary of the Military Department notifies the spouse of the designation.
In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides a monthly dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC). DIC is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military service members who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease. The basic rate for survivors is adjusted annually, and payments continue generally until the death of the spouse or remarriage before age 57. Remarriage after age 57 does not affect benefits.
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This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network Blog on December 23, 2013