Learn How to Apply for VA Family Benefits

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Learn How to Apply for VA Family Benefits

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) requirements depend on several factors. GI Bill requirements differ among the available programs. A petitioner may meet the requirements for Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance while failing to meet the conditions for a VA-backed home loan. Determining DIC veterans qualifications will require unique information and procedures for each veterans program. Some programs, such as the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program, require the family to provide a wide array of documentation proving a relationship to the veteran. In the case of death while in service, the family will need to provide the service member’s death certificate. To learn how to qualify for Veterans Affairs benefits programs that help dependents of service members, please refer to the following program overviews:

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
  • GI Bill
  • VA Home Loan
  • Veterans Burial Benefits

Find Out How to Qualify for the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is available to surviving family members of service members who died in the line of duty or whose death was a direct result of an injury or disease incurred during a tour. The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is available to qualifying spouses who were married to the service member at the time of death or who married the veteran within fifteen years of the veteran’s discharge from service (during which time the injury or illness presented itself). In order to qualify for DIC, the spouse must have lived with the veteran and have a shared child with the veteran. If divorced, spouses must have been married to the veteran for at least one year, and they may not be remarried to a new spouse.

To meet the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation guidelines, children who apply must be unmarried, not included on any other DIC forms, younger than 18 years of age or enrolled in school if between 18 and 23 years of age. DIC also requires evidence of the relationship between the applicant and the service member. To indicate a relationship with a service member, applicants can furnish service papers, discharge papers, birth certificates and other official identification papers.

Learn How to Qualify for GI Bill

By meeting GI Bill guidelines, the spouses, dependents and survivors of service members can receive educational assistance. GI Bill requirements vary depending on the particular program, as several different programs comprise the GI Bill. The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA) offers educational assistance to family members of veterans who died in the line of duty or were permanently disabled while on active duty. Funding can pay for certificate and degree programs, on the job training or correspondence courses.

The GI Bill allows unused Post-9/11 benefits to be transferred to qualifying spouses and dependents. The U.S. Department of Defense must approve the transfer, and family members must enroll in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS). In this program, the GI Bill requirements do not stipulate that the service member be deceased, disabled or injured. Evidence required to demonstrate GI Bill qualifications include personal identification, proof of relationship to the service member, military papers of the service member and copies of school transcripts, as needed.

How can I qualify for a VA home loan?

If a surviving spouse meets VA Home Loan eligibility requirements, he or she may be eligible to refinance his or her existing home, reduce the interest rate on current home loans, renovate an existing structure, purchase a home or construct a home. VA Home Loan eligibility guidelines do not require the applicant to furnish a down payment, maintain private mortgage insurance or be a first-time homebuyer. Retired veterans will also meet VA Home Loan eligibility requirements if they have been discharged under honorable conditions and have met the required number of days in service. The U.S. Department of Defense makes these requirements available on its insurance rates charts.

After determining VA Home Loan eligibility, the VA issues a certificate of eligibility (COE) to the applicant. The COE is the required evidence that the applicant furnishes to the lender who will approve the borrower for the VA-backed loan. Additional forms that are generally required by most banks include personal identification, banking information and a schedule of debts and assets.

Discover How to Access Veterans Burial Benefits

Veterans burial benefits are available to both service members and their family members. Once approved for veterans burial benefits, the VA will provide a burial, inscription on the headstone and continual care of the gravesite at one of 134 cemeteries throughout the U.S. maintained by the Veterans Administration. Burial benefits are available to family members even if the related service member is not yet deceased.

Requirements to qualify for Veterans burial benefits are determined by the VA National Cemetery Administration. Upon the death of a qualifying family member, the service member must provide the required evidence in the form of DD-214 or other discharge papers to the national offices in order to schedule arrangements with a funeral home and then interment in a national cemetery. The process of determining if someone’s qualifications meet the requirements for access veterans burial benefits takes about 10 minutes to complete. If the recipient does not care for a burial in a national cemetery, the VA will provide a burial at a private cemetery, headstone, burial flag, burial allowances for expenses and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. Burials in a national cemetery must take place during the week.

Benefits of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offer recipients many ways to offset some of the costs incurred as a direct result of being a family member to service personnel, especially military personnel who have been significantly injured or who have died in the line of duty. Each year, thousands of veterans’ spouses and dependents qualify for the GI Bill eligibility award and are able to enjoy access to educational opportunities that otherwise may have been out of reach. Most who go through the various eligibility processes can enjoy thousands of dollars worth of benefits. Discovering the wealth of available Veterans Affairs benefits as well as taking the time to submit the required evidence of eligibility is well worth the investment of time and effort.

Different ways you can apply

Some states may allow you to apply for energy assistance online through a state website. This is typically the case for states that operate LIHEAP at the state level rather than the county level. The department accepting applications can vary from state to state. However, generally the state Department of Health and Human Services will host and process the application. To apply for LIHEAP online, you typically need to make an account with your state’s benefits program. For example, the state of Vermont requires you to make an account with myBenefits, operated by the Department for Children and Families Agency of Human Services.

Once you create an account, you can begin the process of applying for LIHEAP online. You should expect to provide personal and financial information throughout the application, including your name, gender, marital status, physical and mailing address and more. You will typically need a Social Security Number (SSN) as well. Then, you will need to provide information for every member of your household. Depending on the state you live in, you may or may not be required to include income information for all members of the household, including children. You may also be asked for information regarding how often everyone in the household shares meals and whether anyone sometimes lives elsewhere. You may be asked about your work history or whether you have any disabilities as well on the HEAP application.

On your online LIHEAP application, you should provide information about your income sources. This can include what was on your most recent paychecks, how often you work and contact information for your employer. You will also be asked about how much you pay in rent, energy and other bills to determine your financial need. The level of detail required can vary from state to state, with some requiring a breakdown of income sources and others requiring more general information. Once you complete the application, you should be able to submit it online. You may be required to verify additional information by mail or in person, depending on your state.

Download our comprehensive guide to learn more about the HEAP application process.

In some cases, you can apply for LIHEAP by mail or by email. This may be the case if your state operates LIHEAP at a county or district level rather than at a state level. This is also mostly limited to states that have a statewide application form, even if they administer benefits at a local level. To find the printable HEAP application, you may have to visit your state’s DHHS website. In some states, such as Vermont, you can call a number to have a form delivered to you.

When you receive your LIHEAP application form, you should fill it out completely. You will typically be required to fill out information for all members of your household. Be prepared to supply the same information that is requested in the online section above. You may additionally have to include documents like recent pay stubs and utility bills to complete your HEAP program application.

Contact your local LIHEAP office to determine whether you should submit originals or copies of documents included in the application. Mark your envelope and mail it with the appropriate postage to the address indicated on your form or your nearest office. After submitting your application, you should receive a decision on whether you receive LIHEAP benefits within a few weeks, depending on your location.

In some cases, you can submit your Home Energy Assistance Program application through email. Rather than including copies of necessary documents, you should include scans and attach them to the email as necessary. Research your municipality’s specific instructions to determine if you can email your application and where you should send it.

Many states and municipalities require you to apply for energy assistance in person. This is particularly true of states that operate LIHEAP at the local level. States like Texas require you to make an in-person visit to an agency to get approved and submit an application for benefits. In some cases, you may be required to bring everyone in your household or provide signatures from the adults.

You can find LIHEAP application locations on your state’s DHHS or LIHEAP website. You may be required to schedule an appointment with the LIHEAP agency first. In that case, you can either schedule an appointment online or by calling the office directly, depending on your state. Schedule an appointment with the agency nearest to you and begin gathering necessary documents. This may include pay stubs, rental verification if you rent and utility bills to demonstrate your need for assistance. In some states, you must locate a printable LIHEAP application and fill it out to bring with you to your appointment. In others, you will not fill out an application until you arrive at the appointment.

Arrive at your appointment on time to complete the fuel assistance application. Bring all your necessary documents with you to the appointment, as well as any household members that are required. Depending on your state’s process, it may take more than one visit to complete the application process.

Once your application is processed, your power provider will typically receive a single one-time lump sum payment. This payment may be to settle debts or to cover part of your electricity bills for the season. To learn more about how to apply for low income electricity benefits, download our comprehensive guide on LIHEAP.