Social Security and Veteran Benefits
Social Security Benefits
Social Security Benefits
The following is taken from the Social Security Administration #05-10084
The following provides a general overview of Social Security survivor’s benefits. The information it contains is not intended to cover all provisions of the law. For specific information about your case contact Social Security.
The loss of the family wage earner can be devastating to the survivors. This is an explanation of the benefits Social Security can provide for the family.
Who is Eligible to Receive Survivor's Benefits?
When you die, Social Security survivor’s benefits can be paid to your:
- Widow or widower – full benefits at age 65 or older (if born before 1938) or reduced benefits as early as age 60. (The age for receiving full benefits gradually increases for persons born after 1937 until it reaches age 67 for persons born in 1960 or later.) A disabled widow or widower can receive benefits at age 50-60. The surviving spouse’s benefits may be reduced if he or she receives a pension from a job where Social Security taxes were not withheld.
- Widow or widower at any age if she or he takes care of your children under age 16 or disabled who receive benefits.
- Unmarried children under age 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time). Your child can receive benefits at any age if he or she was disabled before age 22 and remained disabled. Under certain circumstances, benefits also can be paid to your stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children.
- Dependent parents at age 62 or older.
Special One-Time Death Benefit
There is a special one-time payment of $255 that can be made when you die if you have enough work “credits”. This payment can be made only to your spouse or minor children if they meet certain requirements.
How Do I Apply For Benefits?
How you sign up for survivor’s benefits depends on whether or not you’re receiving other Social Security benefits.
If You Aren’t receiving Social Security Benefits
You should apply for survivor’s benefits promptly because, in some cases, benefits may not be retroactive. You can apply by telephone.
The Social Security Administration needs certain information to process your application. It is helpful if you have it when you apply. But don’t delay applying if you don’t have everything. They will help you receive it. They need either original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. The information needed includes:
- Proof of death – either from funeral home or death certificate
- Your Social Security number, as well as the worker’s
- Your birth certificate
- Your marriage certificate if you’re a widow or widower
- Your divorce papers if you’re applying as a surviving divorced spouse
- Dependent children’s Social Security numbers
- If available, deceased workers W-2 forms or federal employment tax return for the most recent year
- The name of your bank and your account number so your benefits can be directly deposited into your account
If You’re Already receiving Social Security Benefits
If you’re receiving benefits as a wife or husband on your spouse’s record when he or she dies, you should report death to the Social Security Administration and they will change your payments to survivor’s benefits. If they need more information, they will contact you.
If you’re receiving benefits on your record, you’ll need to complete an application to receive survivor’s benefits. Call or visit the Social Security Administration and they will check to see if you can receive more money as a widow or widower. They will need to see your spouse’s death certificate to process your claim.
Benefits for any children automatically will be changed to survivor’s benefits after the death is reported to us. They will contact you if they need any more information.
How Much Will I receive?
The amount of your benefits is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more he or she paid into Social Security, the higher the benefits will be.
The amount you will receive is a percentage of the deceased’s basic Social Security benefit. The percentage depends on your age and the type of benefit you are eligible for. Here are the most typical situations:
- Widow or widower, age 65 or older – 100 percent
- Widow or widower, age 60-64 about 71-94 percent
- Widow or widower, at any age with a child under 16 – 75 percent
- Children – 75 percent
This information is taken from the Department of Veterans Affairs
(compensation & pension service – April 2002)
To learn more visit their web site at www.cem.va.gov
What is a VA Burial Allowance?
A VA burial allowance is a partial reimbursement of an eligible veteran’s burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service-related, the reimbursement is generally described as two payments: (1) a burial and funeral expense allowance and (2) a plot interment allowance.
Who is Eligible?
You may be eligible for a VA burial allowance if:
- You paid for a veteran’s burial or funeral AND
- You have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased veteran’s employers AND
- The Veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable
In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:
- The veteran died because of a service-related disability OR
- The veteran was receiving VA pension or compensation at the time of death OR
- The veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation but decided not to reduce his/her military retirement or disability pay OR
- The veteran died in a VA hospital or while in a nursing home under a VA contract, or while in an approved state nursing home.
How Much Does VA Pay?
Service-Related Death – VA will pay up to $1,500 toward burial expenses prior to September 10, 2001. For deaths on or after September 11, 2001, VA will pay $2,000. If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all the cost of moving the deceased may be reimbursed.
Nonservice-Related Death – VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses, and a $150 plot interment allowance for deaths prior to December 1, 2001. The plot-interment allowance is $300 for deaths on or after December 1, 2001. If the death happened while the veteran was in a VA hospital or under contracted nursing home care, some or all of the costs for transporting the deceased’s remains may be reimbursed.
How Can You Apply?
You can apply by filling out VA form 21-530, Application for Burial Allowance. You should attach VA form DD 214(Veteran's Discharge Paper), which is proof of the Veteran's military service, a death certificate, and copies of funeral and burial bills you have paid.
Headstones and Markers
Burial in VA National Cemeteries
Presidential Memorial Certificates
Why Does VA Provide A Burial Flag?
A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is furnished to honor the memory of a veteran’s military service to his or her country. Eligibility for Former Members of Selected Reserve was added by Section 517 of Public Law 105-261.
Who Is Eligible To Receive the Burial Flag?
Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to the friend making the request for it. For those VA National Cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of veterans buried in these National Cemeteries may donate the burial flag of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.
How Can You Apply?
You may apply for the flag by completing VA Form 2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. You may obtain a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office. Generally the funeral director will help you.
Can A Burial Flag be Replaced?
The law allows us to issue one flag for a veteran’s funeral. We cannot replace it if it is lost, destroyed, or stolen. However, some veteran’s organizations or other community groups may be able to help you receive another flag.
How Should the Burial Flag be Displayed?
The proper way to display the flag depends upon whether the casket is open or closed. VA form 2008 provides the correct method for displaying and folding the flag. The burial flag is not suitable for outside display because of its size and fabric. It is made of cotton and can easily be damaged by weather.
Headstones and Markers
On December 27, 2001, President Bush signed Public Act 103, the Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act.
This law includes a provision that allows the VA to furnish an appropriate headstone for the graves of eligible veterans buried in private cemeteries whose death occurred on or after September 11, 2001 whether the grave is already marked with a non-government marker or not. The VA does provide headstones and markers for any unmarked grave anywhere in the world. There are optional items that you can receive for the headstone like military rank, war service, day of birth and death and any awards that they may have received while in the military.
Presidential Memorial Certificates
A Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is an engraved parchment certificate, signed by the current President to honor the memory of honorably discharged deceased veterans.
Eligible recipients include the deceased veteran’s next of kin and loved ones. More than one certificate may be provided.
Eligible recipients, or someone acting on their behalf, may apply for a PMC in person at any VA office or by U.S. mail only. There is no form to use when requesting a PMC. Please be sure to enclose a copy of the veteran’s discharge and death certificate. Please send copies, as the VA is not able to return original documents.
If you would like to request a PMC, or if you haven’t received one that you already applied for, please do one of the following:
- Fax your request and all supporting documents (copy of discharge and death certificate) to: 202-565-8054
- Mail your request and all necessary documents either through the United States Postal Service or a commercial mail service to:
Presidential Memorial Certificates (402E12)
Department of Veteran’s Affairs
810 Vermont Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20420-0001
Obtaining Military Records & Medals
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs does not retain veteran’s military service records. Military service records are kept by the National Personnel Records Center, which is under the jurisdiction of the National Archives and Records Administration.
To request military service records, complete Standard Form 180 request pertaining to military records complete with as much information as possible and send to the address listed on the form. Note: it may take up to six months to receive a reply from the NPRC.
Receive and transfer remains (national and international)
If death occurs away from home, we can arrange all the details for you in any location. We can also make the necessary arrangements for burial in a distant city. There is no need for you to travel to that city for the purpose of handling the details.