Understanding VA Benefits for Family Members
As a spouse or child to a Veteran, you are entitled to many benefits. While navigating the waters of VA benefits can be difficult, especially if you’re a surviving spouse or child of a deceased Veteran, it’s important to understand what benefits and services are available to you.
In this blog, we’ll go over some of the most significant Veterans benefits family members are entitled to, notably for dependent spouses, children, and surviving spouses.
An Overview of Common VA Benefits for Children and Military Spouses
There are many Veterans benefits available to spouses, surviving spouses, dependents, and family caregivers. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, these perks cover many life necessities, such as the following:
- Health Care
- Home Loan Programs
- Life Insurance & Beneficiary Assistance
- Burial Benefits
- Survivors Pension
There are multiple health care programs available to Veteran family members, each with specific benefits depending on multiple factors and service requirements. Some programs, for example, provide coverage to Veterans and their dependents if the Veteran has disabilities related to their service. These health care initiatives include programs like:
- TRICARE – This comprehensive health coverage plan offers health plans, prescriptions, dental plans, and other assistance for people with special needs.
- The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) – This alternative health care program for people who don’t qualify for TRICARE. Recipients can receive health insurance that covers the cost of health care services and supplies.
- The Camp Lejeune Family Member Program – This program is a unique benefit for family members of Veterans who lived at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and may have been exposed to contaminants in the drinking water and have developed certain diseases.
- The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) – This comprehensive program offers assistance to family caregivers of Veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty. These benefits include financial stipends, health insurance provisions, mental health counseling, and more.
Additionally, many current military spouses and other family members can register as patients in VA health facilities and reap the benefits of regular patient services, like refilling and tracking prescriptions, ordering medical aids, and having lab blood work done.
Do you know the difference between home care and home health care?
For spouses and dependents of Veterans, the VA offers several educational assistance programs. The Post–9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits to certain service members and their families who have served on active duty after September 10, 2001. This includes up to 36 months of tuition assistance for approved colleges, universities, flight schools, vocational/technical programs, apprenticeships/on-the-job training, licensure testing preparation programs, or national tests accepted for college credit.
The Survivors’ & Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA) offers education and training for eligible spouses or dependents of Veterans who are deceased or disabled due to a service-connected disability. This program provides up to 45 months of education benefits to pursue an approved degree or certificate program at a college or university. Additionally, if a child is under the age of 18 and has lost a parent due to a service-related disability, they may qualify for death pension benefits.
Dependent family members of Veterans can obtain employment benefits like VA educational and career counseling. Eligibility is only based on two requirements:
- The recipient is the dependent of a Veteran.
- The recipient is eligible for certain VA education benefits (which include The Post-911 GI Bill, The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, and The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve).
With these benefits, dependents can explore their interests and map out a clear career path.
Spouses, dependent children, and surviving spouses of Veterans who served can obtain financial security with VA life insurance. Eligible beneficiaries have plenty of life insurance options to choose from, like:
- Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
- Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI)
- Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)
- Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALife)
Burial services are available to help Veterans and their family members finance a burial or memorial service in a VA national cemetery. Additionally, family members can order grave markers, headstones, Presidential Memorial Certificates, and other memorial items to help honor their loved ones.
Eligibility for burial benefits can apply to several groups. Still, per VA, Veterans, service members, and their spouses and dependents are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery if one of the following requirements is met:
- The person qualifying for burial benefits is a Veteran who didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, or
- The person qualifying for burial benefits is a service member who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training, or
- The person qualifying for burial benefits is the spouse or minor child of a Veteran, even if the Veteran died first, or
- The person qualifying for burial benefits is in some cases, the unmarried adult dependent child of a Veteran.
Surviving Spouse Benefits
When Veterans pass away, their dependents are often left with questions regarding their rights and benefits. It can be a confusing and overwhelming time for family members as they grapple with their new reality while also attempting to navigate the complexities of the benefits system.
Because their benefits are often overlooked, we should educate surviving spouses about military widow benefits that could significantly improve their quality of life.
VA Aid and Attendance for Spouses
VA Aid and Attendance (A&A) is a VA pension benefit that provides financial assistance in the form of monthly payments to active duty service members, Veterans, and their surviving spouses who require assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing.
To meet the Aid and Attendance requirements, the Veteran must have met the following requirements:
- They have served at least 90 days of active duty with at least one of those days during an active wartime period and were honorably discharged.
Additionally, they must meet at least one of the following physical requirements:
- They require the assistance of another person for daily living activities, such as grooming, bathing, and eating.
- They stay in bed most of the day due to a disability or illness.
- Their eyesight is limited to 5/200 even with glasses or contact lenses, or they have a concentric visual field contracted to 5 degrees or less.
If a deceased Veteran has met these service requirements and their surviving spouse receives a VA surviving spouse pension, the surviving spouse can qualify for and use Aid and Attendance benefits just as their spouse would. Granted, this is if they meet the pension’s net worth and income limits. Commonly, many surviving spouses use Aid and Attendance to fund home health care services.
Choose AVCC for Home-Based Care Services
At AVCC, we understand the difficulty of finding an adequate support system for Veterans, their surviving spouses, and family members. We are exclusively dedicated to helping Veterans connect with necessary aid services so they can live comfortably at home. We proudly offer home-based care services through our network of experienced care providers throughout multiple states—ensuring that our clients receive high-quality support when needed.
Are you ready to secure home care services? We’re happy to help.