Know Your Benefits Before You Need Them

Paperwork and stress.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had quite a few request to fund various charitable or crowdfunding campaigns for military or veteran families who are allegedly in a tight position.  One thing that jumps out at me is that it seems like most of these are unnecessary – that military benefits would actually cover the cost of the stated reason for the fundraising.  I’m really hesitant to give specific examples because I don’t want to call anyone out, and because there are always multiple sides to every story.  Let’s just say that it seems like the people doing the fundraising don’t have any idea what sort of benefits and services are available to military families.

This is one of the many reasons that I encourage you to learn everything you can about the benefits and services for which you are currently eligible, and become familiar with the benefits that would be available in the event that your service member is injured or killed, whether in the line of duty or not.  After a serious car accident is not the time to be discovering what happens to a service member who can no longer serve.  After a death is not the time to discover what happens to that military income.  Not only will knowledge give you peace of mind, but it will make sure that your preparations, such as savings, life insurance, or disability benefits, are the right preparations for your exact situation.

There are a couple of places you can look to learn more.  I write about issues such as Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage, Veterans Administration survivors benefits, and retiree and survivor medical coverage.  You can also check at your installation’s family services center, such as the Fleet and Family Service Center, Army Community Services, Airman and Family Readiness Center, or Marine Corps Community Services for classes or individual counseling.  Branch-wide programs such as Army Family Team Building, the Navy’s Compass Program, or the Air Force’s Heart Link are a great resource for peer-taught workshops on a wide range of military topics.

Here’s are two lists of topics to start your research.  Tell me what I’ve missed and I’ll add those programs to the lists.

Currently Serving

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) for active duty members
  • medical retirement
  • Temporary Disability Retirement Program
  • VA educational benefits

Retired Families

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)
  • retiree Tricare and Tricare for Life
  • VA pension benefits
  • VA medical care benefits

The military has its downsides, but there are a full spectrum of benefits and programs available for families, particular after a serious injury or casualty.   Knowing about and understanding those benefits and programs is 90% of the battle.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.