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This military survivor checklist helps families be prepared for a loss

From benefits to advocacy.
Shannon Corbeil Avatar
Photo by Sgt. Esdras Ruano

The death of a servicemember is one of the most tragic outcomes of military duty and something none of us want to think about. But when it happens, fortunately, there are services and resources available to help surviving spouses and dependents through their tragedy. In addition to bereavement services offered by the military, AAFMAA (American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association) provides Survivor Assistance Services during times of greatest need for military families.

It can be overwhelming and challenging for surviving family members to navigate the government agency claims processes to acquire benefits earned through military service. And when someone is processing the death of a loved one, this is the last thing they want to be focused on. Making a plan ahead of time for a worst-case scenario means you and your loved ones will be prepared in the event of a tragedy. 

When an AAFMAA Member passes away, an AAFMAA Survivor Benefits counselor can assist with the various time-critical next steps, including notifying DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service) and the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) of the Member’s passing. They also assist survivors with any necessary forms and survivor benefits, initiating the AAFMAA Life Insurance policy death claim and settlement options, and contacting other life insurance companies and associations listed within the Member’s profile.

One way to make the time easier is to address certain aspects of the process beforehand. AAFMAA offers a free Military Survivor Checklist to help you prepare in advance for any contingency and to organize the information and resources your family members will need should the time come. The checklist covers documents that should be copied and organized, including birth certificates, death certificates, wills, powers of attorney, estate plans, civil service pensions, notifications of disabled adult children, life insurance policy information, and more. It can be a lot to take in, which is why the checklist and the personalized support services exist.

As part of AAFMAA’s Survivor Assistance Services, Members get help organizing necessary documents, forms, and resources. The team can also file claims on your behalf. Additionally, they will continue to follow up with your survivors throughout the process and ensure that benefits are paid in full.

From expeditious payments to life insurance, you can count on AAFMAA’s Survivor Assistance team to help with logistics and financial support during the bereavement process. AAFMAA also advocates for surviving family members, making initial inquiries and following up in claims disputes. That support continues after servicemembers are gone, with personalized reports on their benefits and entitlements.

Just because a servicemember passes away does not mean their surviving family is alone. AAFMAA is there to ensure survivors are advocated for and supported during one of their most challenging experiences. Become an AAFMAA Member today to ensure your family will have everything they need in place when the time comes.

Shannon Corbeil is an actor, writer, and host with a masters degree in Strategic Intelligence. A prior U.S. Air Force Intelligence Officer, she now specializes in writing about military history and trivia, veterans issues, and the entertainment industry. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

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