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How Do I Stop VA Benefits When Someone Dies (Simple Guide)

By Larry Li

August 31, 2022


The death of a loved one is an incredibly difficult and emotional time. To make matters worse, there are many decisions to be made and tasks to complete by the surviving spouse and family members, especially if your loved one was a US military veteran. 

But how do I stop VA benefits when someone dies?  Typically, one of the surviving family members of the deceased loved one should notify Veterans Affairs (VA) of their death. First, you can notify Social Security by calling 1-800-772-1213. Then, you should notify the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) by calling 1-800-538-9552.

Stopping VA benefits when a loved one passes is a straightforward process. Today’s in-depth guide walks you through every step you need to complete. This way, you can better understand what to do when a veteran in your family passes on.

Here’s what this guide covers:

  • Who should notify the VA when a veteran dies?

  • How to report a veteran’s death?

  • What happens after you report a death to the VA?

  • Prepare for the future with Trustworthy

Who Should Notify the VA When a Veteran Dies?

In most cases, the executor of the deceased individual’s estate is responsible for notifying Veterans Affairs of the death. However, this doesn’t restrict other surviving family members from sending the notification. The closest surviving family member of the deceased veteran, typically the spouse or children, can notify the VA as well.

However, regardless of who notifies the VA, it’s crucial to notify them soon after your loved one passes away. Since the deceased family member may have been receiving VA benefits, the VA may require the estate executor to pay them back. This is why it’s essential to address the issue with the VA as soon as possible.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that funeral directors will usually arrange your loved one’s military honors and military funeral. The funeral director may also notify the VA about your loved one’s death. 

How to Report a Veteran's Death?

The VA death notification process is relatively quick and straightforward. Simply follow the steps below.

1. Research the Benefits

Although we recommend notifying the VA soon after your loved one passes away, you should also consider spending some time researching the benefits the VA offers surviving family members of deceased veterans. This way, you can notify the representative while discussing the VA survivor benefits at the same time.

Check out the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs resources to learn more.

2. Prepare Documents

When you contact the VA, they may ask you to provide proof of your loved one’s passing. Therefore, we recommend preparing by obtaining a copy of your loved one’s death certificate. In addition, you may need a copy of your deceased family member’s service record if you want to apply for benefits or request military honors at the funeral.

You can request a copy of your loved one’s service record through the National Archives.

Your funeral director will also need some particular documents to arrange for military honors during the funeral. 

These documents typically include:

  • Certified copy of your loved one’s service record

  • VA claim information and number (if applicable)

  • Social Security number of your loved one, as well as those of any spouses and dependent children

  • Certified copies of marriage license or divorce certificates if your loved one had any previous marriages

  • Certified copies of your loved one’s children’s birth certificates

  • Certified copy of your loved one’s death certificate

  • Your loved one’s insurance policies 

3. Call the VA

The best way to contact the VA about your loved one’s death is through the national call center at 1-800-827-1000. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Once again, you can also take this time to discuss VA survivor benefits with the representative. However, since the VA call center may be busy, we recommend calling when you have time to spare.

If you prefer going to a physical location, you can use the VA location finder to see where your local VA office is located. 

4. Follow the VA's Advice

The last step is to speak with the representative on how to stop VA benefits. Fortunately, the representative will provide guidance on what you are required to do. For example, the VA may ask you to visit your nearest VA regional office with the appropriate documents.

Furthermore, the VA may ask you to contact the regional office to cease the VA benefits. If the representative explains how you qualify for survivor benefits, they may advise you to fill out and submit certain forms and documents. Then, you simply need to find the form’s on the VA’s website, fill them out entirely, and mail them to the address given by the representative. 

In any case, we recommend listening closely to the representative and keeping a pen and paper ready to write down important information. Since every situation differs on a case-to-case basis, this is your best plan of action. 

What Happens After You Report a Death to the VA?

There are a few potential outcomes after you report your loved one’s death to the VA. Let’s take a closer look at a few common examples.

Repayment

The VA may have sent benefits to your deceased loved one even after their death. This happens when you don’t notify the VA right away or if the VA sent the benefits immediately before your loved one’s passing. In any case, you will need to return some or all of the benefits sent to your loved one.

The VA representative you call or meet in person will tell you how much you, or the executor of the deceased one’s estate, must pay back and how you can send the money.

For this reason, you should not touch or move the benefits sent to your loved one until you speak with a VA representative. Using someone else’s Social Security benefits constitutes fraud and may result in a federal charge.  

Benefits

You may qualify for certain benefits and services as the survivor of a fallen veteran. As such, you can discuss the benefits with the VA representative and request the benefits by submitting the application forms and filing a claim.

However, it may take some time for you to receive the benefits. This is because the VA must process your claim and distribute the benefits afterward. You can check on the status of your claim by calling the call center at 1-800-827-1000. 

Return Equipment

In addition to paying back any benefits your deceased loved one received after or immediately before their death, the VA may ask you to return VA-issued equipment. These items include wheelchairs, medical beds, and so forth. 

The VA representative will generally ask the executor of the deceased’s estate to contact the relevant VA hospital’s Prosthetic Department. Then, the executor can arrange for someone from the hospital to pick it up or return the equipment to the hospital directly. 

Military Honors

If you haven’t chosen a funeral home to arrange for your loved one’s funeral, the VA may provide a list of funeral homes that arrange for military honors. The VA may also provide information about local veterans’ cemeteries. This way, your loved one can get the proper farewell they deserve for their sacrifice and hardships. 

We recommend contacting the funeral homes and cemeteries to make sure they can accommodate the military honors. Furthermore, if your loved one received an Aid and Attendance pension benefit or similar benefit from a separate veteran’s organization, you can potentially use it to cover the funeral costs.  

Prepare For the Future With Trustworthy

We hope you found this guide helpful in your search for how to stop VA benefits when someone dies. By now, you should understand that the VA death notification process is relatively simple, as long as you follow the steps outlined above.

However, you can make matters easier for your entire family by preparing for the worst before a family member passes away. Trustworthy is a contemporary family planning platform dedicated to storing and organizing life’s most important documents.

With Trustworthy, you can safely upload and share estate planning documents like wills, power of attorneys, burial wishes, last wishes, and advance health directives. Then, you can share certain documents with trusted family members. 

Best of all, Trustworthy’s concierge team will walk you through what documents and paperwork you must gather for your estate plan. Trustworthy will also help you find an estate planning attorney if necessary. Our goal at Trustworthy is to ensure your family is well-equipped for life’s toughest moments. 

You can use Trustworthy (click here to start your free trial) to plan, organize, and securely share your family’s estate planning documents.