Death Gratuity

A death gratuity will be granted to eligible survivors of deceased veterans in the form of a one-time, non-taxable lump sum allotment of $100,000 to help the family deal with the financial hardships caused by the death of the veteran.  Survivors are eligible for this benefit if the veteran’s death occurred under the following conditions:

    • An armed force member under his jurisdiction who dies while on active duty or while performing authorized travel to or from active duty
    • An armed force Reserve member who dies while on inactive duty training (some exceptions apply)
    • An armed force Reserve member who assumed an obligation to perform active duty for training, or inactive duty training (some exceptions apply) and who dies while traveling directly to or from that active duty training or inactive duty training
  • A member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps who dies while performing annual training duty under orders for a period of more than 13 days, or while performing authorized travel to or from that annual training duty; or any applicant for membership in a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps who dies while attending field training or a practice cruise or while performing authorized travel to or from the place where the training or cruise is conducted; or
  • A member who dies while traveling to or from or while at a place for final acceptance, or for entry upon active duty (other than for training), in an armed force, who has been ordered or directed to go to that place,

and who:

Has been provisionally accepted for that duty; or

Has been selected for service in that armed force

 

If survivors are proven eligible to receive the veteran’s death gratuity, the following os the order of precedence used to distribute the funds:

  • Lawful surviving spouse
  • If no spouse, to the child or children regardless of age or marital status in equal shares
  • If no spouse or children, to the parents, brothers or sisters or any combination of them as designated by the veteran
  • Natural mother or father
  • Mother or father through adoption, in equal shares
  • Natural brothers and sisters
  • Any person acting as guardian for one or more years at any time before the deceased member’s entry into active service
  • Brothers and sisters through half blood and adoption
  • Surviving parents in equal shares
  • Surviving brothers and sisters in equal shares

If, however, there are none of the survivors listed above, the death gratuity will not be paid to any other person.  Also, if the intended beneficiary dies before the gratuity is paid, the gratuity will go to the next person or persons in order on the above list.  Claims for gratuity payment are made by submitting a completed DD Form 397, Claim Certification and Voucher for Death Gratuity Payment. 

Death Gratuity for Retired Veterans

If the a retired veteran dies within 120 days after retiring from service and the VA determines that the death was caused by an illness or injury incurred while the retiree was on active duty, that veteran’s beneficiaries are entitled to a lump sum gratuity in the sum of $12,420.  If the veteran retiree dies more than 120 days after retiring from service, beneficiaries are not eligible for this gratuity.  Active duty as defined for the circumstance of determining eligibility for this gratuity includes:  full-time active reserve personnel traveling directly en route to or from o participating in annual training, active duty training, initial duty training, active duty for special work, special active duty training or inactive duty training and National Guard personnel traveling directly en route to or from or participating in annual training, active duty training, full time national guard duty, temporary tour of active duty, initial active duty training, or inactive duty training.  This gratuity is not required to be counted as gross income when reporting annual taxes and will be distributed to the veteran’s survivors in the following order:

  • Surviving spouse
  • If no spouse, to the child or children regardless of age or marital status in equal shares
  • If none of the above, to the parents or brother and sisters, or any combination of the before mentioned as designated by the deceased veteran

If the gratuity is not paid to one of the above listed persons, it will not be paid to any other person.  If the intended beneficiary dies before receiving the gratuity payment, the next eligible recipient according to the above list will be granted the funds. 

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