Military Survivor Benefits

Losing a loved one is never easy and unfortunately, with death comes an array of life changes, major decisions and often times confusion over the next steps.  If you are a surviving family member to fallen military or veterans you have more options than the average person.

Many military spouses may or may not be aware of the financial benefits available to their family when they lose their military member either on Active Duty or during Retirement.   

A few things to consider:

1. Should the military member pass away while serving on Active Duty, there is an abundance of items to be claimed while working with the Casualty Assistance Officer and Veteran’s Affairs Office.

  • First and foremost is SGLI (Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance) of 400K, paid as a lump sum

  • Second is Death Gratuity of 100K, paid as a lump sum

  • Third is DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation), a tax-free monthly benefit for the spouse and minor children

  • Fourth is ADSBP (Active Duty Survivor Benefit), a more complex calculated monthly benefit for the spouse

  • Fifth is DEA (Dependents Educational Assistance), a monthly benefit for children attending college

  • It’s important to know that if the family is living in military housing, they have 1 year to transition out of that housing into the civilian community (depending on location).

  • Also, the military member’s pay is stopped immediately and adjusted to the date of death, which is why the Death Gratuity is there to help cover immediate needs.

2.  Should the military member pass away after they retire, it’s essential to work with the Veteran’s Affairs Office.

  • If applicable, the SBP (Survivor Benefit Plan), a taxable monthly income to the spouse, needs to be started.

  • Burial honors need to be coordinated

  • If applicable, VGLI (Veteran’s Group Life Insurance) needs to be claimed

  • Depending on the military member’s VA disability rating, there is potential that DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation) tax free monthly benefit might be availableto the spouse as well as the DEA (Dependents Educational Assistance) for the college child.

Of course, it is important to note there are more details and variations depending on the specific military families’ situation.  Every family is different and not every benefit may be available to the surviving family member.

There are many great resources for military families and veterans.  Below is a list of a few websites that are helpful in the explanation of benefits and how to go about filing for them. Also, click on the buttons below to download your free guides to estate and death planning. Another great resource is a financial planner who has worked with other military families and can assist you in navigating the situation to collect all the benefits you and your family are due.

Other sources:


The materials and information contained herein are intended for educational purposes, to stimulate thought and discussion so as to provide the reader with useful ideas in the area of wealth management planning.  These materials and information do not constitute and should not be considered to be tax, accounting, investment, or legal advice regarding the use of any particular wealth management, estate planning, or other technique, device, or suggestion, nor any of the legal, accounting, tax, or other consequences associated with them. 

Investment Advisory and Financial Planning Services offered through SWMG, LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser.