VA Caregiver Support
The VA sponsors a variety of Caregiver Support Services and Tools to assist those who are providing care to a veteran. Services include a toll free Caregiver Support Line at 1-855- 260-3274 and a webpage at www.caregiver.va.gov, providing information on caring for your veteran and for yourself. The website can also connect you with your local Caregiver Support Coordinator.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to the surviving spouse or dependents of certain veterans.
VA Office of Survivors Assistance
The VA’s Office of Survivor’s Assistance (OSA) provides services to survivors and dependents of deceased veterans and servicemembers. The OSA serves as a resource on the benefits available to survivors. Answers to most benefits questions can be found on the OSA’s website at www.va.gov/survivors. If you cannot find the answer on the OSA’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page, you may send an email to OfficeOfSurvivors@va.gov.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Military Caregiver Leave
Provisions of the 2008 and 2010 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs) altered the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to assist family members who need to take unpaid leave to care for a servicemember or veteran with a “serious injury or illness.” The law allows spouses, children, parents, and other next-of-kin who provide such care to take as many as 26 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period.
Qualifying Exigency Leave
In separate FMLA provisions, “qualifying exigencies” can entitle the spouse, child, or parent of certain servicemembers to up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. These provisions apply to the specified family members of servicemembers on or notified of an impending call to “covered active duty.” Covered active duty includes servicemembers in the regular Armed Forces who are deployed to a foreign country and servicemembers in the reserve Armed Forces who are called to federal active duty for a deployment to a foreign country. Qualifying exigencies associated with the servicemember’s covered active duty may involve short-notice deployment, military events, childcare/school arrangements, financial/legal arrangements, counseling, rest and recuperation, post-deployment activities, and other related activities as agreed upon between the employer and employee.
Benefits under M.G.L. c. 115
The Commonwealth provides financial assistance for indigent Massachusetts veterans and their dependents, including assistance for food, shelter, clothing fuel and medical care. These benefits are available for dependents of deceased veterans as well. (M.G.L. c. 115 )
The following dependents of veterans may qualify for Chapter 115 benefits:
- Spouse of the veteran.
- Widow or widower of the veteran.
- Dependent parent of the veteran.
- Any person who acted as a parent to the veteran for five years immediately preceding the commencement of the veteran’s wartime service.
- Child of the veteran until his or her 19th birthday.
- Child of the veteran between 19 years and 23 years of age while the child is attending high school, an institution of higher learning or some other accredited educational institution provided that the applicant is in receipt of benefits under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 115.
- Child of the veteran 19 years of age or older who is mentally or physically unable to support himself or herself and was affected by the disability prior to his or her 18th birthday.
- Legally adopted children of the veteran.
NOTE: Veterans and their dependents may be required to apply for federal benefits for which they are eligible before being eligible for state benefits under Chapter 115.
Servicemembers on active duty and veterans may be parents with child support orders enforced by the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR). It is important for parents to understand how military service can affect their child support cases so that they can work with DOR to ensure that child support remains paid in full and on time.
Citizenship for Military Personnel and Family Members
Non-U.S. citizens serving in the armed forces and their dependents may be eligible for U.S. citizenship. To obtain information on citizenship or other immigration issues, such as permanent residence (“green cards”) visit http://www.uscis.gov/military.
Servicemembers and their families may also contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Military Help Line for immigration-related information: 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645).
American Red Cross - Emergency Communication Services
During a family emergency, the American Red Cross can provide a link between families and servicemembers. The Red Cross can provide verified information to a servicemember when an immediate family member dies or is seriously ill or when a child is born. To contact the Red Cross for assistance, call 1-877-272-7337 (toll free within the continental U.S.). Please note that the Red Cross cannot provide or confirm information about a servicemember’s illness, injury, or death. To learn more about Red Cross services for servicemembers, veterans, and their families, visit www.redcross.org.