RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

DEATH GRATUITY UPDATE 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on July 31st, 2008

Effective 1 JUL service members will be able to select from one to ten persons of their choosing to receive the $100,000 death gratuity benefit. Prior to the change in law, payments were restricted to the spouse, then children (if applicable), and then to a family member as elected by the service member. It didn’t allow a married service member to leave the death gratuity to anyone else.

Beginning 1 JUL, service members will be able to select persons to receive death benefits in increments of 10%. An unmarried service member with children will be able to designate a person of his choice, such as a parent or other person, to receive the death gratuity directly on behalf of their children. Married service members may elect to leave less than 100% of the death gratuity to the spouse. The law; however, requires the spouse be notified in writing when such as election is made and will not disclose any percentages or identify any additional beneficiaries. If the service member does not make a designation or designates only a portion of the amount payable, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will pay the amount of the death gratuity not covered by a designation to the following in the order listed: surviving spouse; if no spouse, then to any surviving children; if no children, then to surviving parents or their survivors. If none of the preceding exist, payment will be made to the appointed executor or administrator of the estate. The death gratuity is not an insurance policy, but should serve as a bridge between the death of a service member and the start of survivor benefits. Benefits, such as the death gratuity, do not replace the need to do proper estate planning and guardianship agreements for minor children. [Source: NMFA Government and You E-News 15 Jul 08 ++]

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