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Veterans Law

VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Rates for 2021

December 13, 2020
VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Rates for 2021

Overview of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax-free, monthly benefit paid to a surviving spouse, children, and sometimes parents of a veteran whose death was related to military service or a service-connected condition.  Survivors are not paid the same monthly amount that the veteran was receiving at their time of death.  DIC has its own exclusive rates (see section below).

In order for survivors to qualify for DIC benefits, veterans and service members must meet one of the following criteria:

  • “The servicemember died while on active duty, active-duty training, or inactive duty training;” or
  • The veteran passed away due to a service-connected condition; or
  • The veteran’s death was not service-related, but was entitled to receive VA disability compensation for a totally disabling condition (or total disability based on individual unemployability, TDIU):
    • For a period of at least 10 years prior to death; or
    • Since release from active duty and for a period of at least five years prior to the veteran’s death; or
    • “For at least one year before death if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999.”

VA also lists eligibility requirements for spouses when it comes to receiving DIC benefits.  Surviving spouses are typically eligible for DIC benefits if they were married to the veteran for a period of at least one year immediately prior to the veteran’s death.  Survivors who were not technically married to the veteran may still qualify for these benefits in certain circumstances.  VA will recognize common law marriages for DIC benefits if your state’s laws allow.

Additionally, VA will allow an unmarried veteran’s surviving spouse to collect DIC benefits if they:

  • Had a child with the veteran; and
  • Lived with the veteran continuously until the time of their death; and
  • Were not separated from the veteran or, if separated, were not responsible for the separation

What Are the DIC Rates in 2021?

As mentioned above, DIC has its own exclusive rates, which tend to increase annually with VA’s cost of living adjustment (COLA).  In 2020, DIC benefits saw a 1.6 percent increase.  This year, in 2021, DIC rates will see a 1.3 percent increase.  As such, the monthly DIC rate will now be $1,357.56 effective December 2020.  Importantly, dependents may also be eligible for added amounts based on certain factors, including the following:

Name of BenefitDescription of BenefitAdded Monthly Amount
8-year provisionIf the veteran had a VA disability rating of totally disabling (including individual unemployability) for at least the 8 full years leading up to their death and the surviving spouse was married to the veteran for those same 8 years$288.27
Aid & AttendanceIf the surviving spouse has a disability and needs help with regular activities of daily living (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing)$336.32
Housebound AllowanceIf the surviving spouse cannot leave their house due to the disability$157.55
Transitional Benefit & DIC Apportionment RateIf the surviving spouse has one or more children who are under the ages of 18$289 for the first two years after the veteran’s death and $336.32 for each eligible child

How to Calculate DIC Payment Rates

 Again, if you are the surviving spouse of a veteran, your monthly DIC rate would start at $1,357.56.  Then for each additional benefit you qualify for, you would add the amounts from the “Added Monthly Amount” column in the table above.

For example, if you have two children under the ages of 18 and qualify for the 8-year provision and Aid & Attendance, your total monthly payment for the first two years following the veteran’s death would be as follows:

$1,357.56 (monthly rate)

+ $336.32 (1st child under age 18)

+ $336.32 (2nd child under age 18)

+ $288.27 (8-year provision)

+ $336.32 (Aid & Attendance)

+ $289.00 (transitional benefit for the first 2 years after the veteran’s death)

= $2,943.79 per month

How to Apply for DIC Benefits

The formal application used to submit a claim for VA survivors benefits is Form 21P-534EZ, Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits.  This document is eight pages long and contains 12 sections.  Along with this application form, it is important to submit as much substantive evidence as possible, such as the veteran’s death certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), and any divorce decrees from prior marriages.

Dependent children should submit their birth certificate and school/college transcripts if over the age of 18 and attending school full time.  VA requires the aforementioned documents when applicable and therefore, submitting these documents along with your application form can help expedite the adjudication process.

Importantly, applying for DIC benefits can be a very lengthy and difficult process.  As such, it may be beneficial to seek assistance from a Veteran Service Organization, VA-accredited claims agent, or VA-accredited attorney.  Seeking assistance can ensure all the proper forms are completed and necessary evidence is submitted.