Survivor Benefits: Myth-Busting Edition

Have you ever been told by your spouse (or others) that you would be well taken care of if the worst happened? Most of us have. I was. After attending the unit's casualty benefit briefings, I felt more informed and prepared when the worst actually did happen. The papers that I filed, and forgot about, became ahelpful resource in the weeks following our family's loss. Fast forward to today, I wish that I had been better informed on what actually happens with benefits. Many things havetaken me by surprise over the years. Mainly, surprise twists concerning benefits that I thought were solid and secure. Let me share some examples with you.

Health Insurance: I was told that my children and I would receive our health care coverage (Tricare Prime) at no cost. It was explained that the coverage for me would be in place for life, unless I remarried, at which point only my coverage would drop. My children would receive their benefits until at least the age of 18. The truth is that only my children would receive the same health care coverage, buton the three year death anniversary, I wouldreceive Tricare standard at no cost.

Dental Insurance: I was told thatwe would continue to receive dental benefits at no cost for life, with the same remarriage clausas noted previously.The truth is thaton the three year death anniversary, we were dropped and offered a retiree family plan rate.

Veterans Preference: This benefit was one of the most valuable to me. A10-point preference couldmeanjob security and a federal job.Recently, I applied for aposition using my preference for the first time since my husband's death. I called several federal agency human resource staffing departments toensure my correctunderstanding of the veterans preferencepolicies and procedures. They confirmed that what I thought was correct. As long asI made it past the first round ofminimum qualifications, only another person with a preference could compete with me for the position. I made it through the first round, butwas not selected for the position. They selected a person with NO veterans preference. When I asked how this could be done in accordancewith regulations they answered, "Thereare many loopholes around that." They went on to tell me that my preference would not really help me unless I was applying for an entry level position, or a position in a highly undesirable location. This was also confirmed by other agencies. With years of college and over 10 years experience under my belt, an entry level position would be a huge step down on my career path. It was both shocking anddisappointing.

I'll be posting more on this topic (SGLI, Death Gratuity, SBP and more) here at SurvivorBUZZ in the days/weeks ahead.

Please understand that I am grateful for the benefits thatwe survivorsreceive, but I feel that a more logical and proactive approach to survivor support is needed. So many government programs for survivor support are operatedby non-survivors. The result being that survivors are often "referred" in circles whenseeking answers to benefit and resource questions. My hope is thatsharing this information will helpothers better understand survivor benefits and avoid the confusion that many survivors experience.

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