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News & Press: Benefits

Reporting the Death of A Beneficiary

Wednesday, August 27, 2014   (3 Comments)
Posted by: Suzanne Gerstner
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The Importance of Death Notification to Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense After a Surviving Spouse Dies.


By law your next of kin should immediately report your death to Officials at the VA (and DOD if it applies), so that your DIC payments are stopped immediately.  It is disheartening that time and time again we read the Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General (VA OIG) Report and see instances where surviving children (adults) fail to report this, retain the payments illegally, are eventually caught, and imprisoned.  


Please advise your adult children and next of kin of this reporting requirement.  If you have a will, you may want to include a statement of this requirement.


The VA Contact phone number is 1-800-827-1000, or by completing VA form 21-0820a.  The DOD contact phone number is 888-332-7411


In one the most recent cases of the VA OIG Press Release sent out highlights the punishment for this offense.   “The maximum term of imprisonment for theft of government funds is 10 years and/or a fine of $250,000.  Restitution to the government is also mandatory” (source:


Two additional cases in the June 2014 Report (VA OIG) also serve to highlight this:


Daughter of Deceased Widow Beneficiary Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds. The daughter of a deceased widow beneficiary pled guilty to theft of Government funds. An OIG investigation disclosed that the defendant fraudulently stole VA benefits that were direct deposited after her mother’s death in March 1993. The loss to VA is $271,402.


Son of Deceased VA Beneficiary Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds. The son of a deceased VA beneficiary pled guilty to theft of Government funds. An OIG investigation revealed that the defendant stole VA benefits that were direct deposited into a joint account after his mother’s death in May 2007. The loss to VA is $83,472.



Kiyomi Rich says...
Posted Monday, November 9, 2015
Great advice! I will print out the reporting process and phone number of the VA and give my daughter that info. Thank you!
Emily Green Toliver says...
Posted Monday, December 1, 2014
Emily G. Toliver This should be a constant print in the Region Newsletter for members who do not have access to computers. Very good information. Susanne we appreciate you. Some next of kin family members do not know the requirements of reporting a deceased person to VA Affairs, DOD, and GSW membership team.
Rachel Clinkscale says...
Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2014
This is very good advice. Also if you are receiving anything from Social Security they must be notified immediately of your death. Make sure all this information is given to the person who will handle your affairs. Rachel Clinkscale

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