Resources

GOVERNMENT BENEFITS

Social Security LogoSocial Security Benefits

The following checklist is designed to help you file for your Social Security benefits.

ELIGIBILITY

The deceased worker must have credit for work covered by Social Security, ranging from 1 1/2 to 10 years depending on his or her age at death.

WHO MAY RECEIVE MONTHLY PAYMENTS?

You may receive monthly Social Security benefits if you are:

  • A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
  • A divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), if the marriage lasted 10 years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
  • Unmarried children up to 18 (19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full time).  Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to step children, grandchildren or adopted children.
  • Children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled.
  • Dependent parent or parents 62 or older.

LUMP-SUM DEATH PAYMENT

In addition to the monthly cash benefits  described above, a one time payment of $ 255.00 may be paid.  The lump sum death payment is paid in the following priority order.

  • A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased person at the time of death.
  • A surviving spouse eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death.
  • A child or children eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death.

APPLYING FOR BENEFITS

The Social Security website is a valuable resource for information about all of Social Security's programs.  There are a number of things of things you can do online.

In addition to using the Social Security website, you can call them toll free at 1-800-772-1213 between the hours of 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday through Friday.  They can also provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day.  If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call the TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.  Before calling, have the following information ready:

  • Marriage Certificate
  • Dependent's Social Security Numbers and Birth Certificates
  • Your Birth Certificate
  • Spouse's Social Security Number
  • Death Certificate
  • Previous Year's W-2
  • The name of the bank and your account number so your benefits can be deposited directly into your account. 

Military Veteran Funeral Honors

Veteran HeaderThe basic Military Funeral Honors (MFH) ceremony consists of the folding and presentation of the United States flag to the veterans' family and the playing of Taps.  The ceremony is performed by a funeral honors detail consisting of at least two members of the Armed Forces.

The Funeral Honors rendered to you or your veteran will be determined by the status of the veteran.  The type of Funeral Honors may be Full Military Honors, 7 Person Detail or a Standard Honors Team Detail.

At least one of the funeral honors detail will be from the Armed Force in which the deceased veteran served.  Taps may be played by a bugler or, if a bugler is not available, by using a quality recorded version.  Military Funeral Honor Teams may act as Pall Bearers if requested by the veteran/family.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR MILITARY FUNERAL HONORS?

  • Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
  • Former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of inital obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR MILITARY FUNERAL HONORS?

  • Any person separated from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions or whose character of service results in a bar to veteran's benefits.
  • Any person who was ordered to report to an induction station, but was not actually inducted into military service.
  • Any person discharged from the Selected Reserve prior to completing one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service for reasons other than a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
  • Any person convicted of a Federal or State capital crime sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

HOW DO I ESTABLISH VETERAN ELIGIBILITY?

The preferred method is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.  If the DD Form 214 is not available, any discharge document showing other than dishonorable service can be used.  The DD Form 214 may be obtained by filing out a Standard Form 180 and sending it to:

National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)
9700 Page Blvd.
St Louis, MO   63132

The Standard Form 180 may be obtained from the National Records Center or via the following web site: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf

IS ANYONE ELSE ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE FUNERAL HONORS?

Yes. Members of the Commissioned Officer Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as members of a Uniformed Service, are also eligible to receive funeral honors.

For NOAA personnel, eligibility is established using NOAA Form 56-16, Report of Transfer or Discharge.  If the family does not have a copy of the NOAA Form 56-16, it may be obtained by contacting the Chief, Officer Services Division, NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center at (301)594-3064 or writing:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Commissioned Personnel Center
Chief, Officer Services Division (CPC1)
1315 East-West Highway,  Room 12100
Silver Spring, MD 20910

For PHS personnel, funeral honors eligibility is established using PHS Form 1867, Statement of Service (equivalent to the DD Form 214).  If the family does not have a copy of the Statement of Service, it may be obtained by contacting the Privacy Coordinator for the Commissioned Corps at (301)594-3064 or writing:

Division of Commissioned Personnel/HRS/PSC
Attention:  Privacy Act Coordinator
5600 Fishers Lane
4-36
Rockville, MD    20857

Headstones

Veteran HeadstoneThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of the date of death.  For eligible veterans that died on or after  Nov 1, 1990, VA may also provide a headstone or marker for graves that are already marked with a private headstone or marker.  When the grave is already marked, applicants will have the option to apply for either a traditional headstone or marker, or a new device (available spring 2009).

Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available.  The style chosen must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial.  Niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment or cremated remains.

When burial or memorialization is in a national cemetery, state veterans' cemetery, or military post/base cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin or authorized representative.

Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a Government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national cemetery, state veterans' cemetery, or military post/base cemetery.

Note:  There is no charge for the headstone or marker itself, however arrangements for placing it in a private cemetery are the applicant's responsibility and all setting fees are at private expense.

Burial Flags

Veteran FlagA United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces.  It is furnished to honor the memory of a veteran's military service to his or her country.  VA will furnish a burial flag for memorialization for:

  • A veteran who served during wartime
  • A veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941
  • A veteran who served after January 31, 1955
  • A peacetime veteran who was discharged or released before June 27, 1950
  • Certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the U.S. Armed Forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951
  • Certain former members of the Selected Reserve

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE THE BURIAL FLAG?

Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service.  When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it.  For those VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.

HOW CAN YOU APPLY?

You may apply for the flag by completing VA Form 21-2008 (Application for the United States Flag for Burial Purposes).  You may get a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office.  Generally, the funeral director will help you obtain the flag.

CAN A BURIAL FLAG BE REPLACED?

The law allows us to issue one flag for a veteran's funeral.  We cannot replace if it is lost, destroyed, or stolen.  However, some veterans' organizations or other community groups may be able to help you get another flag.

HOW SHOULD THE BURIAL FLAG BE DISPLAYED?

The proper way to display the flag depends upon whether the casket is open or closed.  VA Form 21-2008 provides the correct method for displaying and folding the flag.  The burial flag is not suitable for outside display because of its size and fabric.  It is made of cotton and can easily be damaged by weather.