Military Retiree Sponsor Checklist
Things The Retiree/Sponsor And Beneficiaries Need To Do NOW!
The following checklist should be reviewed by military retirees and their beneficiaries on an annual basis. This checklist is designed to equip you and your loved ones with knowledge and information that may prove helpful. While it may be impossible to truly prepare for the overwhelming emotions and dilemmas that arise with the loss of a loved one, it does help when most of the below issues have been put into place.
__ Create a military file that includes your retirement orders, separation papers, medical records, etc. Make sure your spouse knows the location and telephone number of the nearest military installation.
__ Create a military retired pay file that includes the pertinent information for DFAS
(This file should also include the number of any VA claim still pending and the address of the VA office being used; a list of deductions currently being made from benefits; and the name, relationship, and address of the person you have made the beneficiary of any unpaid retired pay at the time of death.)
__ Create an annuities file. This file should have information about the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP), or the Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan (RSFPP), Civil Service annuity, etc. Additional information regarding SBP annuity claims can be obtained from the DFAS-Cleveland office at 800-321-1080.
__ Create a personal document file that has copies of marriage certificates, divorce decrees, adoptions, and naturalization papers.
__ Create an income tax file. Include copies of your state and federal income tax returns.
__ Create a property tax file. Include copies of tax bills, deeds, and any other related information.
__ Create an insurance policy file. Include life, property, accident, liability, and hospitalization policies.
__ In a secure location, maintain a list of all bank accounts (joint or individual). Include the location of all deposit boxes, savings bonds, stocks, bonds, and any securities owned.
__ In a secure location, maintain a list of all charge accounts and credit cards. Include account numbers and mailing addresses.
__ Maintain a list of all associations and organizations of which you are a member. Some of them could be helpful to your spouse.
__ Maintain a list of all friends and business associates who may be helpful. Include name, address, and phone number.
__ Spend time with your spouse discussing your plans concerning the type and place of your funeral service. You should decide which cemetery, whether ground burial or cremation, etc. If your spouse knows your desires, it will resolve some of the questions that might arise at a later date.
__ Visit a local funeral home and pre-arrange your services. Many states will allow you to pre-pay for services.
__ Investigate the decisions that you and your family have agreed upon.
Many states have specific laws and guidelines regulating cremation. Some states require a letter of authority signed by the deceased to authorize cremation. Know the laws in your specific area and how they may affect your decisions.
__ Once your decisions have been made and you’re comfortable with them, have a will drawn up outlining all your wishes.
__ Insure that your will and all other official documents are maintained in a secure location known by your loved ones. This includes all of your DD214s or Retirement Orders.
__ Who should be notified in the event of my death?
- Defense Finance and Accounting Service – 800-321-1080 or 216-522-5955/800-269-5170
- Social Security Administration (for death benefits) – 800-772-1213
- Department of Veterans Affairs (if applicable) – 800-827-1000
- Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) (for Federal Employees) – 888-767-6738
- Any fraternal group that you have a membership with: e.g., NGAUS, NGAMS, MOAA, FRA, NCOA, VFW, AL, TREA
- Any previous employers that provide pension or benefits.
Contact information for Army and Air Force retiree services:
|· Defense Finance and Accounting Service 8899 East 56th Street Indianapolis, IN 46249-1200 800-321-1080 or (216) 522-5955/800-269-5170 (for deceased members)|
|· U.S. Army Army Retirement Services Office 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue Fort Knox, KY 40122 502-613-6732|
- S. Air Force AFPC/DPFFF 550 C Street W JBSA-Randolph, TX 78150 800-525-0102
Things To Do Upon The Death Of A Military Retiree
For Federal Civil Service Employees, State of Mississippi Employees and Retired Military Personnel
(Everyone may not have to do everything on this list)
When making funeral arrangements, ask the funeral home to order at least 10 death certificates. You can’t do very much at all without them and you will need most of them.
Proof of Relationship:
In some cases a copy of the marriage license is asked to establish the relationship, so include it in your papers when you go to these places and it will save some time.
IF YOUR SPOUSE WAS RECEIVING MILITARY RETIREMENT
Call 1-800-321-1080. Have military member’s SSN available. They will stop the military check. You will then have to complete and send in a Standard Form 1174 to apply for any partial payment (part of the month that would be owed the retiree, i.e., individual died on the 3rd of April thus spouse had to submit an SF 1174 for 3 days pay for April). They will send you a packet to complete and return, or you can go up to the AGO and complete the necessary paperwork there. Tell the DFAS representative to send you an SF 1174, a W4P, and a DFAS 2203. You will need all three of these and they are not included in the initial packet that they send unless you specifically request them. You will need a new direct deposit form, signed by the bank, that will either go back in after you complete the packet sent to you, or you can turn it over to the people at the AGO if you fill them out up there. If there is a surviving spouse you will need to fill out a new W4P and send it in too. You can download a current W4P via the internet by searching W4P.
Social Security Offset (coordination of benefits) to Military Annuity:
First, understand the language. When the military is talking about the service member, he/she is referred to as a retiree and/or their retiree benefit. When they are talking about the surviving spouse, they refer to them as the Annuitant or the Annuity Benefit.
Determining how the spouse’s SS benefits affect Survivors Benefit Annuities. Defense Finance & Accounting Services (DFAS) advises that a DFAS Form 2203 must be completed, taken to the SSA office and signed by them; then returned to DFAS for determination of offset. The form is not on their website so you have to call and request it from DFAS. They can also FAX it to you, and once completed and signed by an SSA Official, you can FAX it back to them at 1-800-982-8459. Be sure and tell them to send you copies of the SF 1174, W4P, and the DFAS 2203.
DFAS phone number to contact: 1-800-269-5170
If your spouse was retired military, you and he/she are should load into the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). You will need to change the status of your spouse to the deceased in the system. Take a copy of the death certificate up to the AGO (or other military installation near you) to the person that manages the DEERS System. He/she will change the military member’s status in the DEERS system. You may need to call DEERS, but probably not. If you do the number is 1-800-538-9552.
IF YOUR SPOUSE WAS RECEIVING STATE OF MS RETIREMENT
State Retirement (PERS):
Call 359-3589. Have both SSNs (retiree & spouse) handy. They will take some info and tell you what, if anything else, needs to be done. You will need to take a death certificate to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). It wouldn’t hurt to have your marriage license with you to prove a relationship. If you are in question, ask about the survivor benefit option selected. If option 2 was elected, the amount of your check should change very little because the withholding for tax, etc will be different. They will make these adjustments based on a new W4 and change the name on the check to the surviving spouse.
If the retiree was receiving their state retirement electronically, directly to their bank account, this will continue provided you got a new direct deposit form signed by the bank; however, the first survivor benefit payment is always by check, which should arrive on the 1st of the month just like the electronic payment did. If not, call PERS.
State Life Insurance:
If your spouse was drawing State Retirement he/she may have kept the life insurance that was associated with their employment with the State of Mississippi. Call 601-359-3411 at the State Finance Office located in the Woolfolk building. Tina Davis is a contact name(maybe a different person when you call). You will need to take a certified copy of the death certificate to her. It will take 2 to 3 weeks (after taking the death certificate to State Finance) for an insurance benefits check to come.
IF YOUR SPOUSE WAS RECEIVING A CIVIL SERVICE ANNUITY
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) (Federal Civil Service):
Call OPM (1-888-767-6738) and tell them of the retiree’s death. Be prepared to give them your (survivor’s) name, retiree’s CSA/CSF Claim Number, date of death, and name of the former Federal employee on whose service your survivor annuity is based. This information can also be provided in a letter sent to the following address:
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Retirement Operations Center,
P.O. Box 45
Boyers, PA 16017-0045
Based upon the above, OPM will send out a packet of several forms to be completed and returned to them, applying for not only the survivor benefit but also any employment connected life insurance the retiree may have had in force. After this has been completed OPM will assign a Survivor’s Benefit Claim Number which you will use anytime thereafter you deal with OPM regarding your survivor benefits.
If annuity payments are being deposited directly into an account at a financial institution, you should immediately notify OPM of the retiree’s death. If such electronic payments were deposited before the retiree’s death, these funds pass on directly to the survivor (if they have access to the account to which deposited). These funds do not have to be returned. If the electronic distribution was made after the retiree’s death, it is a violation of the law for anyone to withdraw any of these funds that were deposited after the retiree died. These will have to be returned to the US Treasury. After notification of OPM of the retiree’s death, OPM will notify the financial institution that was receiving the retiree’s distribution and have them return that distribution to the US Treasury.
No annuity is payable for the month in which a retiree dies. Annuity checks paid to a retiree are for the previous month (in arrears), not the current month in which the retiree dies. If electronic distribution made after the retiree’s death are returned to the Treasury Department, you should call or write to OPM asking for an Application for Death Benefits so any monies due can be paid.
IF YOUR SPOUSE WAS RECEIVING SOCIAL SECURITY
Review info at https://www.ssa.gov/planners/survivors/ifyou5.html
Call 1-800-772-1213. Navigate to speak to an operator. Have both SSNs handy. They will ask you for information and based on this, they will determine if they can handle everything on the phone or have to set up an interview. They will stop the check. You will then have to decide, based upon your current situation, as to whether you will draw a social security check based upon your spouse’s earnings or your own; or possibly draw not SS benefit at all at this time. Just remember, if you are drawing a military annuity any monies received from SS will be offset in the military survivor benefit received. (See SS Offset above)
National Guard Association Life Insurance:
If the military member had life insurance through the National Guard Association of Mississippi (NGAMS) you will need to contact NGAMS. If you don’t know, simply call the National Guard Association of Mississippi (NGAMS) Office 601-354-7555 and inquire. You will have to provide a death certificate to them. They will bring or mail you a check immediately.
As a military retiree, if you desire a military funeral you should first have identified such to your spouse and identified your desires within your will. Individuals depending on their military service, i.e. Army, Air Force, etc are entitled to a military funeral. The MS Army National AGO has an Honors Detail that provides funeral honors to Army retirees. MS ANG Retirees funeral honors are provided through either Keesler or Columbus AFB normally. Normally for ARNG retirees, they will provide full military funeral rights, including pallbearers (at the gravesite), flag presentation, gun salute, playing of taps, etc. ANG retirees are provided selected honors based on their retirement rank. Ensure you outline your desires within your will as to which parts of a military funeral you desire. The funeral home will normally take care of this or if you want to contact the Mississippi National Guard, they will normally handle it for you. Normally the funeral home contacts either the Casualty Office, Fort Polk, LA for Army retirees or Keesler/Columbus AFB respectfully for ANG retirees, and requests the support of the honor. Fort Polk contacts the Mississippi National Guard for Army retirees and they provide the military pallbearers, flag detail, firing squad, and bugler. The funeral home will provide the flag but you must give them a copy of the service member’s DD 214. They use the information on the DD 214 to complete an application for the flag, which is provided by the US Postal Service upon presentation of the application.
The Fort Polk Casualty Office phone number is 888-474-0377.
The MS National Guard Military Funeral Coordination Office is located at 1410 Riverside Dr, Jackson. Phone Number: 601-313-6720 (MSG Paterson or SFC Norsworthy).
There is a benefit that comes from the Veteran’s Administration if the veteran meets certain criteria as outlined below.
Am I eligible for allowances to help pay for a Veteran’s burial and funeral costs?
You may be eligible for Veterans burial allowances if you’re paying for the burial and funeral costs and you won’t be reimbursed by any other organization, like another government agency or the Veteran’s employer. You must also meet all of the requirements listed below.
One of these relationships or professional roles describes your connection to the Veteran. You’re:
- The Veteran’s surviving spouse (Note:We recognize same-sex marriages.), or
- The surviving partner from a legal union (a relationship made formal in a document issued by the state recognizing the union), or
- A surviving child of the Veteran, or
- A parent of the Veteran, or
- The executor or administrator of the Veteran’s estate (someone who officially represents the Veteran)
The Veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge, and one of these circumstances must be true. The Veteran died:
- As a result of a service-connected disability (a disability related to service), or
- While getting VA care, either at a VA facility or at a facility contracted by VA, or
- While traveling with proper authorization, and at VA’s expense, either to or from a facility for an examination, or to receive treatment or care, or
- With an original or reopened claim for VA compensation or pension pending at the time of death, if they would’ve been entitled to benefits before the time of death, or
- While receiving a VA pension or compensation, or
- While eligible for a VA pension or compensation at time of death, but instead received full military retirement or disability pay
Or the Veteran:
- Had been getting a VA pension or compensation when they died, or
- Had chosen to get military retired pay instead of compensation
The burial and plot allowance varies in amount based on each Veteran’s conditions. The VA adjusts allowances each year in October. Currently for 2021 VA will pay up to $807 toward funeral expenses and $807 for plot expense for deaths on or after October 1, 2020 (if hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 toward b funeral expenses (if not hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $807 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery. Visit the following link for details, application procedures, form download, et.
The VA provides burial benefits to eligible veterans to help cover the expense of cremation or a funeral. The VA doesn’t pay the money directly to any provider; the benefit is provided as a reimbursement.
As an example, the benefit would be more if the SM’s death was service-connected, and/or if they died while in a VA Hospital, etc. Check the following paper provided at the link below to determine estimated benefits and how to file.
Visit the following link for details, application procedures, form download, etc.
Another benefit available is a free grave marker/stone. The marker/stone comes in four different styles and is also available by applying for the VA. Applications for the monetary benefit, an American Flag, and grave marker are usually on hand and available at most funeral homes; however, they can also be obtained from the Adjudication Division of the Veteran’s Administration. The Adjudication Division in Jackson is located at the GV “Sonny” Montgomery VA Hospital in Jackson. The telephone number is 1-800-827-1000. VA Form 40-1330 must be completed and submitted for a gravestone/marker. The form can be obtained from the following link:
Note: If the veteran is to be buried in on of the MS Veterans Military Memorial Cemeteries the cemetery staff will provide the necessary paperwork to the family for the retiree’s marker headstone.
Retirees are entitled to a burial flag. The family should simply advise the funeral home of their loved one’s military membership and request a burial flag. A copy of the military member’s DD Form 214 will be required by the funeral home. http://www.cem.va.gov/burial_benefits/burial_flags.asp
MS Veterans Military Memorial Cemeteries
|National Cemeteries within MS|
|Biloxi National Cemetery||400 Veterans Avenue
Biloxi, MS 39531
|Corinth National Cemetery||1551 Horton Street
Corinth, MS 38834
|Natchez National Cemetery||41 Cemetery Road
Natchez, MS 39120
State Military Memorial Cemeteries within MS
|Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery||248 Honor Circle
Newton, MS 39345
|Henry Gruno, Director
|North Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery||2 Legion Road
Kilmichael, MS 39747
|Marcus Lawson, Director
The following link provides guidance concerning locations. Retirees desiring to use one of these facilities should preplan their desires by making contact with their desired facility and submit their DD Form 214 to the cemetery staff and subsequently let their family also know of their desires and plans.