As a Veteran, you are entitled to many benefits if you have suffered from a service-related injury. Not only are you entitled, but your family is as well if you die. But what are all the benefits, and how can you find out what they are and apply for them? Sometimes the process can be long and difficult, especially when you are grieving over a loved one. This can make it overwhelming when you first begin. It is important that you know the details ahead of time, though, so that your family can be informed if you pass away.
In this article, we will go over the VA Form 21P-534EZ. We will describe the benefits that it talks about for Veteran survivors while guiding you on how to apply for these benefits.
This form is for survivors of deceased Veterans to receive benefits. It can also be used to receive accrued benefits and money owed to the Veteran before their death that were not paid.
There are many benefits that Veteran survivors’ are entitled to. Though they can be quite numerous, we will use three main categories to break down the benefits.
The three main types of Veteran benefits are Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), survivors’ pension, and burial benefits. Each of these benefits includes things to help alleviate some of the financial hardship that a veteran’s death can cause.
The VA provides these benefits to eligible widows, widowers, children, and sometimes even parents of Veterans who have died. These benefits can also be accrued when the Veteran was owed or approved for certain ones but not paid while still alive.
This benefit is a tax-free monthly payment given to the surviving family of a deceased Veteran whose death is a result of their service. Even if their death was not directly connected to their service, if they had an underlying medical condition connected to their service that contributed to their death, a surviving family’s claim can still be approved.
The amount will vary, but know that it is a monthly payment that will also give additional differentials if the beneficiary has children under 18 or is disabled. The surviving spouses of Veterans who died on or after January 1st, 1993, may be eligible to receive a monthly payment of $1,357.56.
Depending on whether you match certain criteria, there is also additional financial compensation. For example, if the Veteran had one or more dependents under age 18, your total monthly payment would be an extra $289.00 per month since it is a transitional benefit. This is only for two years after the death of the Veteran.
For every dependent under the age of 18, there is an additional $336.32 for each child. If the child is enrolled in a school program between the ages of 18-23, there is an additional $284.93. For any adult child who becomes completely disabled before 18, there is an additional $565.84.
As you can see, there are many financial benefits for surviving family members of a deceased Veteran. When you make a claim, make sure to go over these criteria so that you will not have to go through the process of appealing a denial.
If you are wondering if you are eligible for DIC, make sure that you match the following criteria. For one, you have to have been married to a deceased Veteran for at least one year. You must also show that you have not remarried since the Veteran died while proving that you lived with the Veteran for the full time of the marriage, except for obvious reasons such as deployments and unaccompanied tours.
Same-sex widow(ers) can also apply for DIC given that they match the criteria given above.
If you are a survivor of a deceased Veteran and have a low-income household, you will be able to receive a survivors’ pension. The Veteran did not have to be service-connected while they were alive in order for the surviving spouse or child to receive survivors’ pension. This benefit is also a tax-free financial benefit but is more needs-based since it is directed towards lower-income families.
If you and your children are eligible for survivors’ pension, fill out the VA Form 21P-534EZ to apply. Your casualty assistance officer can help you along the way.
This benefit will differ depending on the circumstance related to the Veteran’s death. If a Veteran died while on active duty, the VA will not pay for burial benefits. If you have questions on whether or not you can attain any burial benefits, the best thing to do would be to contact your casualty assistance officer.
If a service-connected death occurs, then the VA will pay up to a certain amount. For any service-connected death on or after September 11th, 2001, the VA will pay up to $2,000. For non-service-connected deaths that occurred after October 1st, 2007, the VA will pay up to a $300 burial allowance and $762 plot allowance.
The one who receives the burial benefit is usually the surviving spouse. If anyone else receives it, they have to be eligible and file first, which could be the Veteran’s child, parent, or estate executor.
In order to be eligible for burial benefits, there are a multitude of ways that you can be eligible to make a claim.
One of the ways is that the Veteran’s death had to have been service-related. If that is not the case, there is no need to worry. The Veteran also could have received a VA pension or compensation at the time of their death, been under VA care or a VA facility, or even traveled at a VA expense to be eligible.
The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) also gives a monthly payment to a beneficiary of a deceased Veteran for a lifetime. This can be purchased through the Department of Defense. The payments are based on a percentage of the Veteran’s retirement plans. A beneficiary for this plan could include a spouse, children, a combination of both, a former spouse, or even no beneficiary. The most common beneficiary choice are spouses, and the percentage is based on the full amount of your retirement.
If the Veteran chooses their children to be the beneficiaries, then certain requirements are similar to the other survivors’ benefits. The children have to be under the age of 18, unmarried, legally the child (by birth, adoption, etc.), and if they are over the age of 18 but under 22, enrolled in school.
You could even choose a former spouse to be the beneficiary. If this is the case, then the decision would have to be made within a year of the divorce if the Veteran is retired. If the Veteran is at retirement, then they can elect any former spouse, no matter how long ago they separated, to be a beneficiary for the SBP.
If you decide to have no beneficiary, that is fine as well.
As the survivor of a Veteran, understanding the complexities of benefits can be a great challenge. When one is dealing with grief, all of the information can become overwhelming, making you feel like you have no place to start.
The VA Form 21P-534EZ is the place to start when you are wanting to claim benefits as a survivor of a deceased Veteran. The benefits are extensive, so make sure that you take the time beforehand to know all you are entitled to receive what you deserve.
If you have any more questions or need any assistance through the process, please contact our law firm, Berry Law, for more information.
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