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Benefits and Entitlements

Financial Benefits

 Death Gratuity:

A lump sum gratuitous payment made by the Army to designated beneficiaries of a Soldier who dies on active duty including full-time active guard/reserve personnel; USAR personnel traveling directly en route to or from or participating in annual training (AT), active duty training (ADT), initial active duty training (IADT), active duty for special work (ADSW), special active duty training (SADT) or inactive duty training (IDT) and ARNG personnel traveling directly en route to or from or participating in AT, ADT, full time national guard duty (FTNGD), temporary tour of active duty (TTAD), IADT or IDT. The Soldier can designate up to 10 individuals, without regard to relationship, and allocate amounts in 10-percent increments to each designated individual listed on the Soldier's DD Form 93. Its purpose is to help the survivors in their readjustment and to aid them in meeting immediate expenses incurred. At the present time, the amount of Death Gratuity is $100,000.This amount is excludable from gross income for tax purposes. This change is retroactive to October 7, 2001. If the Soldier did not designate any beneficiaries for the Death Gratuity on the DD Form 93, then the death gratuity amount is made payable to survivors of the deceased in this order:

  • To the lawful, surviving spouse of the service member, if any.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, to any surviving children of the service member.
  • If there is none of the above, to the surviving parents of the service member.
  • If there is none of the above, to the duty appointed executor or administrator of the estate of the service member.
  • If there is none of the above, to the other next of kin of the person entitled under the laws of domicile of the person at the time of the person's death.

If a designated beneficiary dies before receiving the amount to which entitled, such amount is then paid to the living survivor(s) first listed above.

If a Soldier dies from a Service-connected injury/illness, a claim should be made to the VA for their Death Gratuity determination.

Additional Information:

 Dependency and Indemnity Compensation:

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military Servicemembers who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.

Eligibility (Surviving Spouse):

To qualify for DIC, a surviving spouse must meet the requirements below.

The surviving spouse was:

  • Married to a Servicemember who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, OR
  • Validly married the Veteran before January 1, 1957, OR
  • Married the Veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the Veteran's death began or was aggravated, OR
  • Was married to the Veteran for at least one year, OR
  • Had a child with the Veteran, AND
  • Cohabited with the Veteran continuously until the Veteran's death or, if separated, was not at fault for the separation, AND
  • Is not currently remarried

Note: A surviving spouse who remarries on or after December 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, is entitled to continue to receive DIC.

Eligibility (Surviving Child):

  • Not included on the surviving spouse's DIC, AND
  • Unmarried, AND
  • Under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school.

Additional Information:

 Insurance Programs:

There are several insurance programs available to Servicemembers and they are listed below. Please click on the program you are interested in for more information:

 Social Security Survivor Benefits:

When a Soldier who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, certain members of the Family may be eligible for monthly benefits.


Generally, the Soldier must be either Fully Insured (up to 10 years of work credit is needed to be eligible for benefits, depending on the person's age) or, Currently Insured (earned at least 6 work credits in the preceding 13 calendar quarters). Under a special rule, if a Soldier worked for only 1½ years in the 3 years before the death, including civilian covered wages, benefits can be paid to minor children and/or the spouse who is caring for the children. Former spouses may qualify for survivor benefits if certain conditions are met.

In cases where the Soldier does not meet any of the above criteria, and the death was on active duty or active duty for training and is determined to be service-connected, a special gratuitous allowance is paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) under Title 38 U.S.C. 1312(a). The Social Security Administration certifies the benefit entitlement, eligible beneficiaries, and amounts payable.

Benefit Highlights:

Death benefits are provided for:

  1. the surviving spouse caring for the Soldier's dependent children who are under age 16;
  2. the surviving spouse age 60 or older, or the surviving spouse as early as age 50 if the surviving spouse is disabled;
  3. for eligible minor children age 18 or under of an insured Soldier, or children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled, and
  4. dependent parents age 62 or older. Benefits depend on the Family status of the deceased. The amount depends on the total work experience of the deceased and the amount of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax contributions made during that period.

Permanently reduced amounts are payable to a surviving spouse as early as age 60. The combined surviving spouse and children's benefit is subject to a monthly Family Maximum.

Additional Information:

 Social Security Lump Sum Death Benefit:

A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse of a deceased Soldier if he or she was living with the deceased, or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased Soldier's record. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to children who are eligible for benefits on the deceased's record in the month of death. If no spouse or child meeting these requirements exists, the lump-sum death payment will not be paid.


The deceased Soldier must have been either fully insured or currently insured under the Social Security system. Generally, the benefit is paid only to eligible survivors who were already receiving or are eligible to receive immediate monthly benefits derived from the earnings record of the deceased. Former spouses are not eligible for this benefit. The benefit may not be paid directly to a funeral home. Military duty status at time of death is not a factor in determining eligibility.

Benefit Highlights:

Only 1 beneficiary may receive the Lump Sum Death Benefit. If more than 1 beneficiary is eligible, such as in the case of multiple eligible children, the children would split the $255 lump sum. The current amount of $255 has not changed since its inception and is not indexed for inflation. Application is made by calling 1-800-772-1213. (TTY 1-800-325-0778)

Additional Information:


Health Care

 TRICARE for Survivors:

TRICARE continues to provide coverage for family members when a sponsor dies. Family member health plan options and costs will vary based on:

  • The sponsor's military status when he/she dies
  • If the surviving family member is a spouse or child

The scenarios below provide an overview of survivor coverage. Spouses remain eligible unless they remarry.

Updating DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System):

You don't have to report the death to the DEERS database of information on uniformed services members (sponsors), U.S.-sponsored foreign military, DoD and uniformed services civilians, other personnel as directed by the DoD, and their family members. You need to register in DEERS to get TRICARE.

  • You only have to report the death to the pharmacy contractor, Express Scripts.
  • For medical and dental care, the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) gets information from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the services.

It may take some time for DMDC to get the information from the SSA. If you prefer, you may notify DMDC of the death by:

Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office
400 Gigling Road
Seaside, CA 93955-6771

If you have questions, call DMDC at +1 (800)538-9552. Visit MilConnect to learn more.

 TRICARE Dental Program Survivor Benefits:

If your sponsor died while serving on active duty, you may qualify for the TRICARE Dental Program Survivor Benefit Plan.

  • We pay 100% of your monthly premium.
  • You pay your cost shares for covered services.

If you were using the TRICARE Dental Program when your sponsor died, you're automatically transferred to the Survivor Benefit Plan. If not, you can enroll at any time. Go to Enrollment

After three years, surviving spouses lose eligibility for the TRICARE Dental Program. They may purchase the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program only if their sponsor died while on active duty for more than 30 days. Surviving children can remain enrolled in TRICARE Dental Plan until they lose TRICARE eligibility for other reasons.

TRICARE Retiree Dental Program

You can enroll in the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program:

  • When your 3-year period ends.
  • If you don't qualify for the TRICARE Dental Program Survivor Benefit



 Survivor & Dependent Education Assistance (DEA):

Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) Program is established by Chapter 35 of Title 38 U.S. Code. The DEA Program provides education and training opportunities for eligible dependents of Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition, or who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition. The program offers up to 45 months of education benefits. These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training as well as correspondence courses for spouses. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances.


DEA benefits are available to the son, daughter, or spouse of:

  • a Veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of active service in the Army.
  • a Veteran who died from any cause while such service-connected disability was in existence.
  • a service member missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
  • a service member forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
  • A Servicemember who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability. This change is effective as of December 23, 2006.

Period of Time During Which This Benefit May Be Used:

Spouses and surviving spouses have 10 years from the date VA establishes eligibility to use the benefit. Surviving spouses of Veterans who died while on active duty may use DEA 20 years from the date of the veteran's death to the benefit. If the VA rated the Veteran permanently and totally disabled with an effective date of up to 3 years from discharge, a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of the rating.

Children may use DEA between the ages of 18 and 26, regardless of marital status.

Note: These limits can be extended under certain circumstances. For details, please visit the web site shown below.

Benefit Highlights:

Eligible persons can receive up to 45 months of full-time or equivalent benefits for:

  • college, business, technical or vocational courses, high school diploma or GED, independent study or distance learning courses
  • correspondence courses (spouses only), apprenticeship / job training
  • remedial, deficiency, and refresher training (in some cases)
  • the cost of tests for licenses or certifications needed to get, keep, or advance in a job

(Note: schools and programs must be approved by a State Approving Authority (SAA) for VA training)

How Much Does VA Pay?

The amount VA pays is based on the type of training program and training time (i.e. full-time, half-time, etc). Benefits are paid monthly and in arrears. If attendance is less than a month or less than full-time, payments are reduced proportionately. Different payment rates can be found on the VA website shown below.

How to Apply?

You can apply by filling out VA Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance, and submit it to the VA. You can also apply through the VA's website.

Additional Information:

 The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship:

What is the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship?

Public Law 111-32 created the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship effective August 1, 2009. This benefit amended the Post-9/11 GI Bill® to include the children of service members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001. Public Law 113-146, The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, expanded eligibility for the Fry Scholarship to surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001. This amendment was effective January 1, 2015. Eligible beneficiaries attending school may receive:

  • Full tuition and fees paid directly to the school for all public school in-state students. For those attending private or foreign schools tuition and fees are capped at a statutory maximum amount per academic year.
  • A monthly housing allowance
  • A books and supplies stipend

Who is eligible?

Children and surviving spouses of an active duty member of the Armed Forces who died in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001, are eligible for this benefit. A child may be married or over 23 and still be eligible, although their eligibility ends on their 33rd birthday. A spouse will lose eligibility to this benefit upon remarriage.
Eligible persons are:

  • Entitled to 36 months of benefits at the 100% level
  • Not eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program

Rules for eligibile children serving, or who have served, in the Armed Forces:

  • If the child is eligible under the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty, Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve, and/or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), then he or she must relinquish eligibility under one of those programs to receive benefits under Post-9/11 GI Bill.
  • A child's character of discharge from his or her own service does not impact eligibility resulting from the line of duty death of a parent.
  • A child on active duty will receive benefits at the active duty benefit rate.
  • A child may qualify for up to 36 months of benefits under the Fry Scholarship Program and possibly another 36 months of benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill based on their own service. An individual may also receive additional entitlement if another parent transfers entitlement to the individual.

Children who have used or wish to use entitlement under Dependent's Educational Assistance (DEA):

  • If a child is eligible for the Fry Scholarship, he or she may be eligible for DEA. Although the benefits cannot be used at the same time, a child may be eligible for up to 48 months of benefits between the two programs. Find out more about DEA at Survivor and Dependent Education Assistance.
  • Surviving spouses must make an irrevocable election of which benefit he or she wishes to receive. An election to receive DEA will forfeit the individual's right to receive Fry Scholarship in the future, and an election to receive the Fry Scholarship will forfeit the individual's right to receive DEA in the future. The election cannot be changed once it has been submitted, so you should carefully review eligibility and entitlement under both programs before making a decision.

How to apply:

To apply, obtain and complete VA Form 22-5490, Dependents' Application for VA Education Benefits. Send it to the VA Regional Processing Office with jurisdiction over the state where you will advance your education and training. If you are a son or daughter, under legal age, a parent or guardian must sign the application.

Be sure to explore potential programs and how much you could receive using the GI Bill by visiting the GI Bill Comparison Tool at GI Bill comparison tool.

For more information, call toll-free 1-888-GIBILL-1 or visit Survivor Education and Training.

 Transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits:

The transferability option under the Post-9/11 GI Bill allows Servicemembers to transfer all or some unused benefits to their spouse or dependent children. The request to transfer unused GI Bill benefits to eligible dependents must be completed while servicing as an active member of the Armed Forces. The Department of Defense (DoD) determines whether or not you can transfer benefits to your family. Once the DoD approves benefits for transfer, the new beneficiaries apply for them at VA. To find out more, visit the DoDs website or apply now.

Type of Assistance:

Eligible Servicemembers may transfer all 36 months or the portion of unused Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits (unless DoD or the Department of Homeland Security has limited the number of transferable months). If you're eligible, you may transfer benefits to the following individuals:

  • Your spouse
  • 1 or more of your children
  • Any combination of spouse and child

Available Benefits and Eligibility:

Family members must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) and be eligible for benefits at the time of transfer to receive transferred benefits.

The option to transfer is open to any member of the armed forces active duty or Selected Reserve, officer or enlisted who is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and meets the following criteria:

  • Has at least 6 years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval and agrees to serve 4 additional years in the armed forces from the date of election.
  • Has at least 10 years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval, is precluded by either standard policy (by Service Branch or DoD) or statute from committing to 4 additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.
  • Transfer requests are submitted and approved while the member is in the armed forces.

Transfer Process:

While in the armed forces, transferors use the Transfer of Education Benefits (TEB) website to designate, modify, and revoke a Transfer of Entitlement (TOE) request. After leaving the armed forces, transferors may provide a future effective date for use of TOE, modify the number of months transferred, or revoke entitlement transferred by submitting a written request to VA. Submit a TEB request now for your Service component approval (non-VA Link). (NOTE: When the milConnect Home page displays, select Education then Transfer of Education Benefits [TEB] from the menu bar.)

Upon approval, family members may apply to use transferred benefits with VA by printing, completing, and mailing the VA Form 22-1990e to your nearest VA regional office of applying online. VA Form 22-1990e should only be completed and submitted to VA by the family member after DoD has approved the request for TEB. Do not use VA Form 22-1990e to apply for TEB.

Other Factors to Consider:

Marriage and Divorce

  • A child's subsequent marriage will not affect his or her eligibility to receive the educational benefit; however, after an individual has designated a child as a transferee under this section, the individual retains the right to revoke or modify the transfer at any time.
  • A subsequent divorce will not affect the transferee's eligibility to receive educational benefits; however, after an individual has designated a spouse as a transferee under this section, the eligible individual retains the right to revoke or modify the transfer at any time.

Reallocation of Benefits

If a Servicemember wants to reallocate transferred benefits they can do so using the TEB Portlet in MilConnect at If a Veteran wants to reallocate benefits they should contact the VA using our "Ask A Question" website

If transferred benefits are totally revoked for a dependent a Servicemember must resubmimt a transfer request for the dependent via MilConnect, a Veteran cannot re-transfer benefits to a dependent if the dependent's transfer eligibility was previously totally revoked.

Nature of Transfer

Family member use of transferred educational benefits is subject to the following rules:


  • May start to use the benefit immediately.
  • May use the benefit while the member remains in the Armed Forces or after separation from active duty.
  • Are not eligible for the monthly housing allowance while the member is serving on active duty.
  • Can use the benefit for up to 15 years after the service members last separation from active duty.


  • May start to use the benefit only after the individual making the transfer has completed at least 10 years of service in the armed forces.
  • May use the benefit while the eligible individual remains in the armed forces or after separation from active duty.
  • May not use the benefit until he or she has attained a secondary school diploma (or equivalency certificate), or he or she has reached age 18.
  • Is entitled to the monthly housing allowance stipend even though the eligible individual is on active duty.
  • Is not subject to the 15-year delimiting date, but may not use the benefit after reaching 26 years of age.



 Continued Housing Benefits for Survivors:

Eligible family members occupying government housing on the date the member dies may continue to occupy such housing without charge for a period of 365 days provided member's death was in the line-of-duty. If they vacate the government housing before the 365 days are up, the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is paid for the remaining unused days. If the family members are not occupying government housing, they may receive BAH or an overseas housing allowance for 365 days after the member's death. Your Casualty Assistance Officer will explain this entitlement to you and help you complete the required claim form.

Additional Information:

 Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP):

At this time, applications are only being accepted from Wounded, Injured, or Ill and Surviving Spouse applicants.


Section 1001 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expanded the HAP authority to authorize the Secretary of Defense to provide financial aid to members of the Armed Forces (30% or greater disability) who incur a wound, injury, or illness in the line of duty during a deployment in support of the Armed Forces on or after September 11, 2001; wounded DoD and Coast Guard civilian homeowners reassigned in furtherance of medical treatment or rehabilitation or due to medical retirement in connection with a disability incurred in the performance of his or her duties during a forward deployment occurring on or after September 11, 2001 in support of the Armed Forces; and surviving spouses of fallen Warriors who move within 2 years of the death of such employee or member.


Wounded, Injured, or Ill members of the Armed Forces – Any member of the Armed Forces in medical transition who 1) incurred a wound, injury, or illness in the line of duty during a deployment in support of the Armed Forces on or after September 11, 2001; 2) is disabled to a degree of 30% or more as a result of such wound, injury, or illness, as determined by the Secretary of Defense; and 3) is reassigned in furtherance of medical treatment or rehabilitation, or due to medical retirement in connection with such disability. In addition, the home for which HAP benefits are being requested must have been the applicant's primary residence at the time of the relevant wound, injury, or illness.

Wounded, Injured, or Ill Civilian Employees of DoD or the United States Coast Guard – Any civilian employee of the DoD or the United States Coast Guard who 1) was wounded, injured, or became ill in the performance of his or her duties during a forward deployment occurring on or after September 11, 2001, in support of the Armed Forces; and 2) is reassigned in furtherance of medical treatment, rehabilitation, or due to medical retirement resulting from the sustained disability. In addition, the home for which HAP benefits are being requested must have been the applicant's primary residence at the time of the relevant wound, injury, or illness.

Surviving Spouses – A spouse of a member of the Armed Forces or a civilian employee of the DoD or the United States Coast Guard may be eligible when 1) the member or employee was killed in the line of duty or in the performance of his or her duties during a deployment on or after September 11, 2001, in support of the Armed Forces or died from a wound, injury, or illness incurred in the line of duty during such a deployment; and 2) the spouse relocates from such residence within 2 years after the death of such member or employee.


If an applicant is eligible under the Wounded, Injured, and Ill or Surviving Spouse categories and money is available, HAP may provide financial assistance under one of the following three scenarios: Private Sale, Government Acquisition, or Foreclosure:

  • Private Sale: Benefit amount is the difference between 95% of the home's prior fair market value and the selling price. HAP may also reimburse the applicant for normal and customary seller's closing costs;
  • Government Acquisition: Benefit amount is the greater of 90% of the home's prior fair market value OR the mortgage(s) payoff amount;
  • Foreclosure: Benefit is paid to the lien holder for legally enforceable liabilities.


Available online at


Other Benefits

 Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA):

The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) oversees the operation of a worldwide chain of military commissaries. DeCA commissaries provide groceries for cost plus 5% surcharge. Purchasing goods from the commissary saves a family an average of more than 30% compared to shopping at civilian grocery stores. Commissary use is available to Regular Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve Soldiers, to Retirees, and to qualified dependents. Authorized shoppers are required to possess and show a Uniformed Services' Identification Card (ID).


Authorized commissary patrons as defined by Department of Defense Instruction 1330.17, Armed Services Commissary Operations, include active duty, Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, 100 percent disabled veterans, and their authorized family members. Please refer to this instruction for a complete list of authorized commissary patrons, including organizations and activities, along with qualifications and any exceptions such as access to U.S. commissaries overseas.

The Defense Commissary Agency has no authority to determine whether a person is authorized to shop in the commissary. If you believe you may be entitled to commissary privileges, visit your local installation Pass and ID office for information about military benefits and to obtain an ID card consistent with your entitlements.

Benefit Highlights:

Commissaries are grocery stores, usually located on military installations, which sell food products and assorted goods. Authorized patrons purchase goods at cost plus 5% surcharge. The surcharge covers the costs of building new commissaries and renovating existing ones. This benefit saves a family an average of more than 30% on groceries as compared to commercial market prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. For a current savings figures for various groups – single member up to a family of seven – visit and click on the "See Your Savings" tab in the upper right corner of the page.

Overseas Commissaries:

In overseas areas, Status of Forces Agreements (or other international agreements between the host country and the United States) determine access to commissaries and to the purchase of duty-free goods sold in these commissaries. Overseas military commands publish regulations of commissary access based on the terms of these agreements. These regulations differ by country. Contact the particular installation Pass and ID office in the country of interest to determine commissary privileges.

Additional Information:

 Legal Assistance:

Find the nearest nearest installation legal assistance office by using this site's Legal Services Locator or by visiting the following website:

or contact the Fort Gordon Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (OSJA)
263 Heritage Park Lane, Bldg. 35203
Fort Gordon, GA 30905
Phone: +1 (706)791-7812
DSN Tel: (312)780-7812