The VA offers both Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and Survivors Pension benefits to surviving spouses of deceased veterans. Each program has specific requirements that must be met in order to qualify to receive compensation from the VA.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is a monthly, tax-free, recurring benefit paid to the surviving spouse, child, or dependent parent if the Veteran’s death resulted from a service-related injury or disease. The amount of DIC is set at $1,154 per month, however additional compensation is possible if the surviving spouse has dependents. Additional compensation is also available if the Veteran was receiving continuous service-connected compensation for a disability rated totally disabling for at least eight years preceding death. This applies if the Veteran was receiving Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU), as well.
DIC Benefits: Are you eligible?
DIC benefits are available to surviving spouses of veterans who meet certain criteria. If a servicemember died while serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, his or her surviving spouse would be eligible for DIC benefits. If the Veteran’s primary or contributory cause of death was a service-connected disability, his or her surviving spouse would be eligible for DIC benefits. Other situations in which a surviving spouse is eligible for DIC benefits include:
- the Veteran was receiving service-connected compensation for a totally disabling condition continuously for a period of at least 10 years immediately preceding death;
- the Veteran was receiving service-connected compensation for a totally disabling condition continuously for at least five years from the date of the Veteran’s discharge; or
- the Veteran was a former Prisoner of War and receiving service-connected compensation for a totally disabling condition for at least one year immediately preceding the Veteran’s death.
In order to be eligible for DIC benefits, the Veteran’s surviving spouse must have:
- been married to the servicemember who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training; or
- been married to the Veteran before January 1, 1957; or
- been married to the Veteran for at least one year.
In some cases, the person pursuing DIC benefits need not to have been married to the deceased Veteran so long as s/he and the Veteran had a child together, cohabitated continuously until the Veteran’s death, and is not currently remarried. If s/he and the Veteran were separated, the person pursuing DIC benefits must not be at fault for the separation.
For the Survivors Pension, the deceased Veteran must have served for at least 90 days of active military service and at least one day during wartime, if the veteran served before September 7, 1980. For service after this date, the deceased Veteran must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty with at least one day during wartime. The Veteran cannot have been discharged under dishonorable conditions.
The surviving spouse must not have remarried to receive a Survivors Pension. While the requirements relating to the cause of the Veteran’s death are not as strict as the DIC requirements, there are income limitations that must also be met in order to qualify.
The current Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) is $8,656 for a spouse without any dependents. If your annual income exceeds this amount, you will not be eligible to receive the Survivors Pension. If your income is less than this amount, then you will receive the difference between your income and the MAPR.
You may receive additional benefits amounts if you are housebound, or in need of aid and attendance. You also receive additional benefits for qualifying dependents.
If you are the surviving spouse of a veteran, you may be entitled to VA Survivors Benefits. Contact the experienced veterans lawyers at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick for a free case evaluation. Call us at 401-331-6300 to discuss your claim.