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Death Gratuity

. A lump sum gratuitous payment made by the Air Force to eligible beneficiaries of a member who dies on AD, ADT, or IDT, or full-time National Guard duty. Its purpose is to help the survivors in their readjustment and to aid them in meeting immediate expenses incurred. The death gratuity payment is $12,420, and is non-taxable. For those whose death is as a result of hostile actions and occurred in a designated combat operation or combat zone or while training for combat or performing hazardous duty, the payment is $100,000. The death gratuity payment is made to survivors of the deceased in this order:

The member's lawful surviving spouse. Payment delivered by the CAR assigned to the reporting or assistance base, within 24 hours of the member's death, unless the surviving spouse desires other arrangements.
If there is no spouse, to the child or children of the member, regardless of age or marital status, in equal shares (state laws guide payment to minor children). Payment for minor children is made by DFAS-DE/FJPC within 30 days after they have received the required claim form and supporting documentation.
If none of the above, to the parents, or brothers and/or sisters, or any combination as designated by the deceased member. Payment delivered by the CAR assigned to the reporting or assistance base, within 24 hours of the member's death, unless the NOK desires other arrangements.
The death gratuity is not paid to any other person when there are no survivors as listed above. A will is not a legal designation for death gratuity since such payment is not an allowance or a debt due the member and cannot be part of the member's estate.
The claim form required to apply for this benefit is DD Form 397, Claim Certification and Voucher for Death Gratuity Payment.

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