BY RUTH KINGSLAND - Northwest Guardian
Published: 01:43PM January 4th, 2018
For those who have recently lost a military loved one or haven’t been a surviving spouse long enough to know all the ins and outs of rules and red tape, here’s an opportunity to get questions answered and learn what to do at specific milestones — Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Survivor Outreach Services is offering a milestone benefits conference call Jan. 24 from 1 to 4 p.m.
The free dial-in number is 605-475-4120, access code 8475028.
This is the first time the event has been offered, and it’s expected to save valuable time for clients who have a variety of questions for different agencies and don’t want to spend all their time calling one organization after another.
“If you’ve been through trying to call Social Security or other agencies for hours, you can appreciate an opportunity to talk to everyone you need to in one call,” said Tina Mann, SOS financial counselor.
“We’re doing (the call-in) because many survivors aren’t aware of certain milestones,” she said. “Sometimes survivors come in (to the SOS office on Lewis Main) and say their benefits have stopped, and they want to know why. This is something you need to mentally prepare yourself for, so you don’t miss the milestones.”
A few of the milestones Mann refers to involve medical care. The surviving spouse receives TRICARE for three years before their care switches to retiree status, Mann said.
“The child gets TRICARE until they age out,” she said.
The event will be on a timed schedule, so it’s important to call in at the time a representative will be available for your specific need.
1 to 1:30 p.m. Veterans Affairs representative — dependency and indemnity; the Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship — which provides GI Bill benefits to the children and surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty while on active duty after September 10, 2001. Eligible beneficiaries attending school may receive up to 36 months of benefits at the 100 percent level; and remarrying.
1:30 to 2 p.m. Social Security Administration representative — benefits for children when they turn 18 and are still in school; also widows benefits start at age 60.
2 to 2:20 p.m. TRICARE — New changes for TRICARE and if benefits end if surviving spouse remarries.
2:20 to 2:50 p.m. Retirement Services Officer — Survivor benefits for spouse and child. Benefits change when child turns 18; benefits for spouses who remarry.
2:50 to 3:15 p.m. Exceptional Family Member Program — benefits continue for child and spouse when sponsor dies.
3:15 to 3:45 p.m. Employment Readiness Program — Benefits for surviving spouse interested in getting into the Federal Government and services offered.
3:45 to 4 p.m. General questions and answers.