Survivor Assistance

The Surviving Spouse and Personal Affairs pages have some overlapping information.  Please review both thoroughly.  Information on this page is intended to be for reference, while the information on the Personal Affairs page is more detailed.

Here is the latest from Craig Smith, Chapter Surviving Spouse and Personal Affairs Chair:

SURVIVING SPOUSE CORNER—Craig Smith, Surviving Spouse and Personal Affairs Chair

MOAA Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter met 29 January 2019. The Agenda included

Legislative issues, Benefits and Finances, Benefits Education and Counseling, and SBP/DIC Latest Bill HR-553 followed by general discussion.

The big three items MOAA will focus on in the new congress will be Pay, Tricare and SBP/DIC offset.  Lt. General Akins and Admiral Doran Chairman of MOAA’s BOD, both addressed the group.

This Legislative year a new congress was installed, all bills including HR 553 SBC/DIC offset will have to be resubmitted to the new congress.  Please contact your representative to pressure them on being a sponsor and vote for this Bill.  To date there are 83 co-sponsors.  Although a senate bill has not been introduced you can still contact your Senators to be aware of this Bill.  Tricare and Tricare for Life is also on the chopping block.  Be aware that you will be paying more for this coverage if congress gets it way.  Again, your voice is crucial to stop the attacks on your earned benefits.

Dan Merry announced that storming the Hill date is 10 April this year.  If you intend to go you need to coordinate with MOAA State Council by March 8th.

 General Discussion focused on the needs of surviving spouses.  They should ensure they have 2 to 3 months of emergency savings set aside as it takes that long to reinstitute Retiree spousal benefits.  And up to six months living expenses.   Ensure access to passwords, all bank accounts are in both names as well as safe deposit boxes, after one spouse said all their important death documents were in his name and after he died it already has been 4 months for the court to authorize the bank to open it.   It was suggested to use and keep updated the survivors, checklist available on the MOAA website.  They should also be aware of assistance at local Survivor Support Centers, Retiree Service Office on most Military bases, Area Agency on Aging, most cities and Survivor Outreach Services.  It was recommended to do a Google search on any of the above key words and of course MOAA.

Spouses should be aware of unscrupulous Financial Services that are not Military affiliated and are only interested in making money off of your loss.

The next quarterly meeting will be April 27, discussion will focus on “How best to help a new Surviving Spouse, and Effective ways to disseminate information for Surviving spouses (who are not MOAA members). Everyone is encouraged to email Micki or Gail with suggestions.

The Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter is open to Surviving Spouses only but you need to register to gain access. Applications can be obtained by contacting Craig Smith for a hard copy to mail or obtain an email version.  My contact info is below or call 207-703-3402. Or by contacting the two Chair persons below.

If you have a specific question or concern the following Chairpersons are more than willing to help you address your specific concern. Their contact information is below:


Gail Joyce                                                               Micki Costello                           

(214) 676-2132                                                     (214) 770-4140

Death Benefit Claim Forms to Complete and Submit to DFAS :  Note: each is available online by simply entering form number into a search engine (
SF 1174
Claim for Unpaid Compensation of Deceased Member
Spouse’s retired pay stopped on the date of death.  You are entitled to pay up to this point. 
 (2 unrelated persons must witness signature)
With Form Attach:  1 Copy of Death Certificate (with cause)
Questions: 1-800-321-1080
VA Form 29-4125
 To claim the proceeds of a Government Life Insurance policy.  This is a lump-sum payment -  if the spouse participated. 
With form attach:  1 Copy of Death Certificate with Cause.
Questions:  1-800-669-8477
DD Form 2656-7
Application for Survivor Benefit Plan Annuity….SBP.  If your spouse participated, you are eligible to receive a monthly annuity, effective the day the death occurred.  Attach copy of social security card for surviving spouse.
FMS 2231
 Direct Deposit Sign-Up Form.  This is the standard method for payment of your annuity.  Complete Section III.  A cancelled check is helpful.
IRS Form W-4P
Required because the annuity is subject to federal income tax.  We recommend no more than1 exemption be claimed to avoid having insufficient withholding.
With form attach:  1 Copy of Death Certificate (with cause)
Questions:  1-800-321-1080
Documents Needed for Surviving Spouse to Obtain New ID Card
Spouse’s and Deceased Member’s Military ID card plus one additional gov't issued photo ID
Original Long Form Death Certificate (with cause)
Copy or Original DD Form 214, or retirement order
Copy or original of both Birth Certificates
Copy of Marriage Certificate
1 Voided Check
Documents Needed to File for Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC)  Same as ID card, plus:
VA disability rating determination letter (if applicable)
Proof of service in Vietnam (if applicable and not listed on DD-214)
Paid in full receipt from funeral home listing services provided
If surviving spouse is a veteran: DD-214 for the spouse
Medical history records if no service connected disease listed on death certificate


Preparing Your Survivors - Now
* Assemble important papers in one place:

DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty
Birth Certificates for both if married
Marriage and divorce documents, if applicable
VA disability rating decision letter (s), if applicable
Retired Activity pay statement
Death notification list with phone, account numbers and passwords
Social security cards, passports, voter registration cards
Life insurance policies and pension plan numbers and contact info
VA life insurance policy numbers (VGLI/SGLI)
* Maintain current legal documents:
Will - Allocates assets and to fulfills a person's final wishes
Living Will - Pertains to life-sustaining procedures
Durable Power of Attorney - Appoints a person (agent) to conduct affairs
Durable Health Surrogate - agent to make health care decisions
Copy of Recorded Pre-Need Guardian Directive
* Financial affairs:
Identify bank accounts that are jointly or individually held
Review account beneficiaries and contact information
Have sufficient cash available for bills (retired pay & allotments will stop)
Document other sources of revenue (savings accounts, insurance policies, stocks)
Document contents of safety deposit box
* Pre-planning responsibilities:
Compare prices of at least two funeral homes
If uncomfortable, ask a relative or friend to assist you
Maintain funeral director's name and phone number
Plan funeral and burial arrangements: how, where, who, what etc.
* Make final wishes known:
What is the preference: Burial or Cremation?
Desired location of burial plot:                                                             
Buried in uniform: Yes or No Memorial Service: Yes or No If desired, draft obituary and file with important papers


Social Security Notification and Possible Benefits
Initial Notification of Death: Social Security should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies. In most cases, the funeral director will report the person’s death to Social Security. You will need to furnish the funeral director with the deceased’s Social Security number so he or she can make the report.
Apply for Benefits:  Some of the deceased’s family members may be able to receive Social Security benefits if the deceased person worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits. You should get in touch with Social Security as soon as you can to make sure the family receives all of the benefits to which it may be entitled. Please read the following information carefully to learn what benefits may be available.
• A one-time payment of $255 can be paid to the surviving spouse if he or she was living with the deceased; or, if living apart, was receiving certain Social Security benefits on the deceased’s record. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment is made to a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased’s record in the month of death.
• Certain family members may be eligible to receive monthly benefits, including: —A widow or widower age 60 or older (age 50 or older if disabled); —A widow or widower at any age who is caring for the deceased’s child under age 16 or disabled; —An unmarried child of the deceased who is: ° Younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if he or she is a full-time student in an elementary or secondary school); or ° Age 18 or older with a disability that began before age 22; —A stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild or adopted child under certain circumstances; —Parents, age 62 or older, who were dependent on the deceased for at least half of their support; and —A surviving divorced spouse, under certain circumstances.
If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit received for the month of death or any later months. For example, if the person dies in July, you must return the benefit paid in August. If benefits were paid by direct deposit, contact the bank or other financial institution. Request that any funds received for the month of death or later be returned to Social Security. If the benefits were paid by check, do not cash any checks received for the month in which the person dies or later. Return the checks to Social Security as soon as possible. However, eligible family members may be able to receive death benefits for the month in which the beneficiary died.
Contacting Social Security for more information and to find copies of publications, visit their website at or call toll free, 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778). They treat all calls confidentially. They can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and can provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day.
Source:  Social Security Administration SSA Publication No. 05-10008 ICN 451390 Unit of Issue - HD (one hundred) November 2009


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