Benefits Available to Widows of Veterans

Having a loved one serve in the United States Military can be difficult for any family, but losing a loved one during their time of service can be a family’s worst fear. To help families during their time of loss, and to help them maintain their quality of life after the departure of their loved one, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers Survivors’ Benefits.

What are Survivor Benefits?

To dependents of veterans there are a wide variety of benefits ranging from educational assistance to financial assistance that are designed to maintain and enhance the quality of their lives after the death of their service member. The Department of Veteran Affairs, the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, and the Social Security Administration each offer their own type of assistance. Some of the different benefits offered by these departments include, but are not limited to;

    • Burial Assistance
    • Life Insurance through Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI)
    • Dependency Indemnity Compensation
    • Survivor Benefit Plan
    • Social Security Benefits
    • VA Home Loan
    • Educational Assistance

      Who is Eligible for Survivor’s Benefits?

      Generally, the Primary First of Kin, or PNOK, is eligible for any type of Survivors’ Benefits offered by the federal government. Before your service member departs for active duty, they are required to fill out a form in which they have to write down their PNOK. This person is the individual who will most likely receive benefits, and will be the first to be notified in the case of injury or death. Individuals who are normally eligible for Survivor’s Benefits include:

      • Surviving spouse
      • minor children
      • dependent parents

      Depending on circumstances, step-children and/ or grandchildren may also be eligible for benefits. To obtain your rightful benefits, you will need to submit an application along with your decedent’s name, birth certificate, Social Security number, and service information; and your birth certificate, Social Security number, and marriage certificate. If you have any questions regarding the benefits you may or may not be eligible, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs. They have representatives ready to help, and to guide you in the right direction.

      Photo thanks to stuwillis under creative common license on Flickr.

      19 thoughts on “Benefits Available to Widows of Veterans”

      1. Linda McCallister

        My late husband was a vet. He passed away 2/18/09 from heart failure. I do work full time. Do I have any kind of benefits coming to me at all. His worker told me I had none at this time. And Social Security told me I can’t claim widows benefits till I turn 62. My brother-in-law in Ohio is telling me that his vet social worker says I am eligible for benefits, including health & other things. Can you please assist me on which direction to go on this. I am totally lost here.
        Thank you,

        1. You can apply for your husbands social security at age 60. I will receive his benefits this month. go to your local social security office. Perhaps it is different where you are in florida it is at age 60

        2. Hi Linda, I lost my husband on April 14, 2011 from and injury that occured at the VA hospital. I have found out a lot from this unfortunate experience. In order for you to receive med benefits your husband had to have been 100% disable then any pay benefits that he was collecting will be substantioally cut after he has passed. you will only receive 1194.00mo. the govenment keeps approx. 2000.00. I feel that the spouses and families are entitled to the full amount due to the fact that we are the caretakers of the vet. How are we to survive on 1194.00 a month???/ I would like to see this LAW changed to keeping the full amount.

      2. Priscilla, even though these are both benefits paid with federal money, death benefits are specific to veterans and social security is a civilian benefit. You should be able to receive both.

      3. Glenda,

        There are benefits available to you, yes. Please go to this page, and select the criteria that is applicable to you. It will lead you to a list of what benefits you are possibly eligible.

        The VA itself does not give out small business loans. The Small Business Association does have small business loans specifically for veterans or their surviving spouses. This article has more information about SBA small business loans, as well as the appropriate links to lead you to more technical information.

      4. I was living with a disabled army officer who was diagnosed with PDSD. We were together for 17 years and he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007. We fought his disease and he had his right lung removed in the city of hope. The diagnose was given by his physicians as possitivel. We were told that he was on the road of recovery. I was his nurse/care taler at the city of hope were we stayed at the cities bungalow. My husband was given 30 treatments of radiation and we were told he was doing well. Beliving he had survived…my husband took a turn for the worse and died in a matter of hours. We were married only from Oct. 26. 2007 until the day of his death April 22. 2008. Who is making the decision that I am not qualified for benefits because I was not married for a year. I took care of my husband for many years and not being recognized as his wife is unsinkible.
        I am a German Citizen and lost to know were to go. Please can you advise me.
        Thank you.

      5. I am a vietnam vet, I receive va widows benefits as I have no income.I will be 60 in February, and can apply for half of his Social security. But I get several different answers about if my Va benefit will be lost or reduced. I dont know yet how much the benefit will be and trying to find out but does anyone know if you can receive both and if so will how much SS you can receive before they cut my Vas widows benefit.
        thank you

      6. I am a vietnam vet’s widow, I receive va widows benefits, as I have no income.I will be 60 in February, and can apply for half of his Social security. But I get several different answers about if my Va benefit will be lost or reduced. I dont know yet how much the benefit will be and trying to find out but does anyone know if you can receive both and if so will how much SS you can receive before they cut my Vas widows benefit.
        thank you

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      7. My husband died in Viet Nam. I received benefits and later remarried. My benefits stopped when I remarried. Social Security told me recently to look into survivor benefits . I am now divorced but retained again the last name of deceased husband from Viet Nam. So my question is, was there a reason that Social security did not hand me any booklet or forms but just verbally told me to apply for what ever it is they thought I was able to obtain? Do I need to go to the V.A. just to find anything out?

      8. Martha C. Kassik

        I was approved ofr a small monthly pention, however I have not received a check for four months. Can you help?
        do I haveto re-qualify yearly? Thank You

        MMy husband was John D. Kassik–service #237-52-7679. My file number is 18-615-695. John served on the hospital ship USS Consolation
        fortwo yearsduring the Korean conflict. Thank you.

      9. Martha Kassik
        Case number 18-615-695

        Reference Decrased Veteran, John David Kassik dob 01-23-32, serial #
        418-84-30. John served on the USS Consolation Ship for two years during the Korean Conflict. He servrd for four years and was deceased on November 15,1994.

        I have not received my widow’s bemefit for four months.
        Did I fail to send you a change of address?

        In case I did not, my present address is: Martha C. Kassik
        1572 Silver Fox Circle
        Apopka, Fl 32712-3062

        I would appreciate any help you can give me on this matter.

        Martha C Kassik

        1. Martha, we can’t help you in this matter directly. You should contact a local VA representative on the phone and find out what the problem is. I’m sorry for your troubles.

      10. jerry chatman

        My mother was receiving my deceased step-father’s benefits but about three years the payments stopped. she was living with my sister and her husband when this happened. my sister stated that they had sent them some documents to fill out to see why the benefits stopped. they never filled out the documents. to this date the only thing my mother receives is her social security benefits. what could have been the problem for the stoppage. also is she eligible for medical insurance benefits since she recently suffered a stroke. I helped apply for his veteran benefits during June of 1980 when i getting married and she started receiving her benefits shortly after this.
        any help would be appreciated.
        mr. jerry chatman

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