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Library > Factsheets > Veterans benefits - Reserve and Guard


Posted 4/26/2013 Printable Fact Sheet

There are certain U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits for which reservists and their family members are eligible for if the Airman becomes disabled or dies from service-connected causes while in the Ready Reserve.

To be eligible, an Airman must be on active duty, annual training, active-duty support, military personnel appropriation funded active duty tour, active duty for training, including travel to and from, or inactive duty training. Travel to and from IDT qualifies for some benefits.

To be eligible, family members must meet the following requirements:

-  Married to a servicemember who died on active duty, 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

-  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

-  Not currently remarried.

-  Children must be unmarried and younger than 18. Certain physically-challenged children and those between 18 and 23 attending a VA-approved school qualify.

VA benefits are not automatic; they must be applied for. These agencies can help file claims if there is not a VA office nearby: personal affairs office at each installation, Red Cross, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Those seeking VA benefits must have available, if applicable, original documents with raised seal of marriage and birth certificates, divorce decree, guardianship papers, adoption papers, "Notification of Eligibility for Retired Pay at Age 60" letter or card and DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.

Dependency and indemnity compensation:  Dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC)  is a VA monthly benefit payable to the surviving spouse, children and, in some cases, parents, if the Airman dies in the line of duty from disease or injury incurred on AD, AT, ADS, ADT, MPA mandays or IDT (injury only), including travel to and from duty. The VA makes the determination if DIC is payable.

DIC is payable to a surviving spouse regardless of any other income. Monthly payments are paid at a flat rate per month plus an additional amount for each child under the spouse's care regardless of the deceased Airman's grade. If there is no surviving spouse, any eligible children receive an annuity.

Disability compensation:  If Airmen are disabled by an injury or disease incurred or aggravated on AD, ADS, AT, ADT, or MPA mandays -- or an injury incurred or aggravated on IDT -- and the injury or disease is determined to be in the line of duty, they should apply to the VA for compensation. If found eligible for disability compensation by the VA, they could receive monthly payments ranging from $96 for 10 percent disability to $1,989 for 100 percent. If rated at 30 percent or more, they are entitled to additional allowances for family members including parents dependent on them for support. These amounts are adjusted annually.

Vocational rehabilitation:  Reservists are eligible for vocational rehabilitation if they meet all three of the following conditions:

-  They suffered a service-connected disability while on AD, ADS, ADT, AT, IDT or MPA mandays, which entitles them to compensation.

-  They were discharged or released from the Reserve under honorable conditions. 

The VA determines that they need vocational rehabilitation to overcome an impairment to employment ability caused by service-connected disabilities.

Veterans Group Life Insurance:  Veterans Group Life Insurance is issued in amounts from $10,000 to $400,000 in multiples of $10,000. However, it cannot exceed the maximum amount of Servicemembers Group Life Insurance coverage the Airman had while in the participating Ready Reserve.

Those who feel they qualify for coverage because of an injury or disability or want to convert SGLI to VGLI can call the Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance at 800-419-1473 or write 290 W. Pleasant Ave., Livingston, NJ 07039-2747. They will provide information on how to obtain VGLI.

Service disabled veterans insurance:  Reservists who incur a service-connected disability of 10 percent or more, as determined by the VA, from performing AD, ADS, ADT, AT, IDT or MPA mandays may be eligible for Service Disabled Veterans Insurance. The insurance is issued in amounts from $1,000 to $10,000, in multiples of $500.  An SDVI application must be made within one year of VA notification of eligibility. Airmen are eligible for both VGLI and SDVI.

Eligible children living with an ex-spouse may receive a portion of the DIC.

Monthly payments to parents depend on their income, not dependency upon the Airman. Payment to parents does not decrease payment to an eligible spouse or children.

Survivors and dependents education:  A monthly allowance for as many as 45 months of full-time training or schooling can be paid by the VA to the children (ages 18-26) and spouses of reservists with permanent and total service-connected disabilities, or unmarried spouses of those who died of service-connected causes.

Handicapped children can receive benefits as early as age 14. A child's marriage is no barrier to education benefits.

Generally, the period of eligibility for a spouse or survivor is 10 years from the date VA determines that disability is total and permanent, or from the date of death.

Home loans:  The surviving spouse (who has not remarried) of a reservist who died on AD, ADT, ADS, IDT or MPA mandays, or after release, as a result of service-connected causes may be eligible for the government-insured home loan benefits. Airmen who have completed six years in the Selected Reserve are eligible for a home loan if they are not otherwise eligible for home loan benefits.

Civilian health and medical program -- VA:  This is a medical program through which the VA helps pay for medical services and supplies obtained from civilian sources. The following persons are eligible for CHAMPVA, provided they are not eligible for Tricare, CHAMPUS or Medicare:

-  The spouse or children of a reservist who has total permanent disability resulting from a service-connected disability.

-  The surviving spouse or children of a reservist who died as a result of service-connected disability.

Burial flags:  The VA provides a U.S. flag to drape the casket of most deceased veterans, retirees, reservists entitled to retired pay, members and former members of the Selected Reserve.

When burial is in a national, state or post cemetery, a flag is provided.

When burial is in a private cemetery, flags may be obtained from VA regional offices, national cemeteries and most U.S. post offices by submitting a VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes, to any of these agencies.

Presidential Memorial Certificates:  A Presidential Memorial Certificate, signed by the president to honor the memory of honorably discharged deceased veterans, may be requested from the VA.

The PMC expresses the country's grateful recognition of the veteran's service in the U.S. armed forces. Eligible recipients, or someone acting on their behalf, may apply for a PMC by contacting VA, 800-827-1000. They will connect you with your regional VA office for further information. Requests cannot be submitted via e-mail.

Burial in national cemetery:  Members of reserve components who die while performing, or as a result of performing AD, ADT, ADS, AT, IDT or MPA mandays, may be eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

Reservists who would have been eligible for retired pay at age 60 are eligible. Burial is also available to an eligible spouse and children.

Death gratuity:  The 2006 National Defense Authorization Act increases the death gratuity paid to survivors when a military member dies on active duty to $100,000.

Casualty assistance:  If a reservist dies as the result of an injury or disease incurred while performing AD, ADS, ADT, IDT or MPA mandays, a casualty assistance representative from the nearest Air Force base is assigned to assist his or her family members in applying for benefits.

This includes those from Air Force, VA, Social Security and other agencies. For participating Airmen who died in a nonduty status, assistance may be obtained from the Airman's servicing military personnel flight.

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