What should I know about survivors benefits?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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Survivors benefits

Survivors benefits in Georgia


What are survivors' benefits?

If your spouse, parent, or child was a veteran, you might be eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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What are the most common benefits for survivors?

There are many types of benefits that may be available to survivors of veterans. Survivors may be able to get: 

  • dependency and indemnity compensation, 

  • survivors pension benefits, 

  • health care

  • burial benefits, 

  • education and training benefits, and 

  • home loan help.


Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

DIC is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of veterans. In order for the surviving family member to qualify for benefits, the veteran's death must have resulted from a service-related injury or disease, or meet other eligibility requirements set forth by the VA.


DIC is available to eligible surviving spouses and unmarried children under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school.


Surviving parent(s) in financial need may also be eligible for DIC.


For more information on DIC, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs' Survivor Benefits website.


Survivors Pension Benefits

Survivors pension is a benefit payable to some surviving spouses and children of deceased wartime veterans. This benefit is based on financial need.


Health care

Surviving family members of a Veteran may qualify for health care benefits. The two most common health care options are TRICARE and CHAMPVA.

  • TRICARE: Family members of deceased service members, National Guard Soliders, Reservists, or Medal of Honor recipients may qualify for TRICARE. TRICARE is a comprehensive health insurance plan program from the Department of Defense. Your eligibility and plan options will depend on: 

    • Whether you are a spouse or child and 

    • The deceased’s military status when they die. 

  • The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA): A surviving spouse or child of a Veteran with disabilities or a service member who died in the line of duty may qualify for health insurance through CHAMPVA. You can only get CHAMPVA if you do not qualify for TRICARE.

    • CHAMPVA covers only some health care services and supplies.


Contact the VA to learn whether you might qualify for these or other health care programs for survivors.


Burial Benefits

There are five additional benefits available at the time of a veteran's death. The available benefits are reimbursement of burial expenses, headstones and grave markers, burial flags, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and burial in a VA national cemetery.


  • Reimbursement of Burial Expenses. The person who paid for the veteran's burial expenses may get reimbursed from the VA. The VA will pay a burial allowance up to $1500 if the veteran's death was service-connected. If the veteran's death was not service-connected, the VA will pay a burial and funeral expense allowance of $300 if the veteran was were eligible for pension or compensation benefits at the time of his or her death. The $300 allowance will also be paid for veterans who died in a VA facility or a nursing home with which the VA contracted.


There is no time limit for claiming reimbursement of burial expenses for a service-related death. In other cases, claims must be filed within 2 years of the veteran's burial.


  • Headstones and Grave Markers. All veterans who had an other than dishonorable discharge are eligible to receive a headstone and marker. The headstones and markers are available in flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, and upright marble. The headstones and markers contain the name of the deceased veteran, the years of birth and death, and branch of service.


  • Burial Flags. The next of kin of most veterans are eligible to receive an American Flag.

    • Presidential Memorial Certificate. The next of kin of most veterans are eligible to receive a Presidential Memorial Certificate. This is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, honoring the memory of honorably discharged deceased veterans. 

    • Burial in a VA National Cemetery. Veterans and armed forces members who died on active duty are eligible for burial in one of the VA's national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service.


Education benefits

Surviving spouses and children of Veterans might for VA education benefits. You might qualify if the Veteran died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability.


VA-backed home loan

The surviving spouse of a Veteran may qualify for a VA-backed home loan, if the Veteran:

  • Is missing in action, or

  • Died while in service or from a service-connected disability and you either:

    • Did not remarry, or

    • Did not remarry before you 57 years old or before December 16, 2003,

  • In some situations, died while totally disabled. The disability may not need to be related to the death. 

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What are my rights and responsibilities with survivors benefits?

You have a right to a survivors’ benefit if you meet the eligibility requirements. 


If you disagree with a benefit decision, you have the right to appeal.


You are responsible for filling out the proper application for benefits and for filing any appeals within the deadline.

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How do I apply for survivors benefits?

  • Dependency And Indemnity Compensation. You may be able to file a claim for DIC:
    • Online,
    • In person at your local VA office.
    • By mail. Print the Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits and send to:

Department of Veterans Affairs, 

Claims Intake Center

PO Box 4444

Janesville, WI 53547-4444


  • Survivors Pension Benefits. If you are eligible, you can apply for benefits:
    • Online,
    • In person at your local VA office.
    • By mail. Fill out an Application for Pension (VA Form 21P-527EZ) and send to:

Department of Veterans Affairs, 

Pension Intake Center

PO Box 5365

Janesville, WI 53547-5365


  • Health Care

    • TRICARE: To enroll in a TRICARE health plan, visit the TRICARE website.

    • CHAMPVA: To apply for CHAMPVA, you can:

      • Fax an application to 303-331-7809
      • mail an Application for CHAMPVA Benefits (VA Form 10-10d) and supporting benefits to:

VHA Office of Community Care

CHAMPVA Eligibility

PO Box 469028

Denver, CO 80246-9028



  • Education Benefits. You can apply:


  • Home Loan Help. To get a VA-backed home loan, you’ll need Certificate of Eligibility to show your lender. To apply for a Certificate of Eligibility:

    • If you’re getting DIC benefits. Fill out a Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility—Unmarried Surviving Spouses (VA Form 26-1817). Submit the application and the Veteran’s DD214 to:

      • Department of Veterans Affairs/ VA Regional Loan Center/ P.O. Box 100023, Decatur, GA 30031-7023, or
      • Your lender.
    • If you’re not getting DIC benefits. Fill out an Application for DIC first, then apply for a Certificate of Eligibility.

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Can I appeal a decision made by the Veterans Benefits Administration?

If you disagree with any decision made by the Veterans Benefits Administration, you have the right to appeal. You can have a representative to help with your appeal. This process can take years to complete.

To appeal a decision:

  • File a Notice of Disagreement. You must file your notice within one year of the date on the letter notifying you of the decision. Mail the notice to the address on the decision letter.

  • Statement of the Case. After you file the Notice of Disagreement, your file will be reviewed by a Decision Review Officer. The officer will decide whether you have enough evidence to grant your appeal. They will send this decision in a Statement of the Case.

  • VA Form 9. If you disagree with the Statement of the Case, you need to return the VA Form 9 within 60 days. 

    • This is your last chance to send any additional evidence for the VA to review.

  • Appeal to the Board. Your case will be sent to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. A judge will review your case. 

  • Hearing. If you wish, you can request a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge.

  • Decision. The Board will decide to:

    • Allow benefits,

    • Ask for more evidence, or

    • Deny benefits.

  • Court of Appeals. If you disagree with the Board’s decision, you can appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. You must appeal within 120 days.


What if I can’t wait years for an appeal of a VA decision?

You can ask for your appeal to be moved to the front of the line if you:

  • Are 75 years old or older, 
  • You have a serious illness,
  • Are having financial problems, or
  • You have some other good reason.


This is called having your appeal Advanced on Docket. You must make this request by writing to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

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More info


For help with benefits:

  • Stateside Legal is a website is for members of the military, veterans, their families and advocates.
  • Learn more about all the services offered by the Georgia Department of Veterans Services on their website.
  • For help with benefits appeals, contact the Georgia Department of Veterans Services Appeals Division.
  • If you have questions for the VA, you can:
    • Message the VA online,
    • Call the VA at:
      • VA benefits hotline: 800-827-1000
      • eBenefits technical support: 800-983-0937
      • Call MyVA311 for help: 844-698-2311
      • If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 711.
Last Review and Update: Jun 26, 2023
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