War, training exercises and even accidents claim the lives of Army soldiers in the U.S. and abroad. And while death is a real possibility for any soldier, many surviving spouses require a period of adjustment for that reality to set in when it happens. Whether soldiers die after retirement or while they’re on active duty, their surviving widows have many benefits available to help compensate for their loss.
Lump-sum death gratuities are made available when either active duty or retired soldiers die. In the event of death of an active duty Army soldier, a lump sum death gratuity of £65,000 is awarded to the surviving widow. If the service member died within 120 days of retirement from the Army, that lump sum is then £8,073. The death gratuity is a one-time, tax-free death benefit designed to help surviving widows deal with their expenses.
Survivors Benefit Plan
Widows of deceased Army retirees are entitled to survivor death benefits established through the Survivors Benefit Plan. Congress passed Public Law 92-425 in 1972 that allowed military personnel to deduct a portion of their monthly before-tax incomes to go into a government cost-share plan. Those soldiers who contributed toward the SBP would guarantee their surviving spouse a monthly income for the remainder of their lives. Annual cost of living adjustments are made for inflation as determined by the consumer price index.
The Department of Veterans Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides many services and benefits to Army widows whose spouses die while on active duty. They offer a wide range of services including a death pension based on financial need and the Dependency Indemnity Compensation. You’ll need to complete the VA Form 21-534 to receive those benefits. Additionally, the VA offers home loan guarantees, medical care and services and bereavement counselling.
Widows get extended lifetime base privileges to use the Commissary and Post Exchange, where they can shop tax-free. Many older surviving spouses enjoy keeping contact with the Army community, and post privileges are one way to accommodate them.
The TRICARE dental program offers low-cost dental care. This plan lets you select dentists from a list of providers in your local area and offers general and specialised dental services from teeth cleaning to dentures and root canals.
Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration provides benefits to widowed Army spouses. When you reach the age of 65, you can claim your spouse’s maximum allowable Social Security benefits that would have gone to them had they survived. You can opt for a lesser payment even as early as age 60. And qualifying disabled widows can get Social Security income as early as age 50. These Social Security benefits are paid in addition to any payments you receive based on your own work history.
Keep abreast of information regarding updates to benefits that affect you as a surviving widow. The Army Times and the Army Echoes both publicise news about impending laws and bills including any benefits updates for Army personnel and their surviving family members.
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