Now that your loved one has passed away, it falls to you to sort out his benefits, life insurance, and other end-of-life costs. Unfortunately, your family member died before his VA disability application was approved, so it is unlikely you will be able to collect those benefits on his behalf... or can you?

Requirements for Families to Collect Accrued Benefits

There are some kinds of cash benefits that can be awarded to survivors of deceased military members. The most common, dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), is given to survivors of service members who died as a result of service-connected disabilities.

In order to get DIC benefits, veterans and family members must meet the following qualifications:

  • Veterans – A veteran must have died during active duty (or in a training exercise), as a result of a service-connected disability, or while receiving VA disability compensation with a rating of 100%. For veterans who were totally disabled, the disability must have been eligible for 100% compensation for at least 10 years prior to death; for at least five years since discharge before death; or for at least one year prior to death if the vet was a former POW.
  • Surviving spouses – In order for a surviving spouse to collect DIC, he or she must have married the veteran at least one year before the veteran’s death; married a veteran within 15 years of discharge (for veterans who died from a service-connected disability); married a service member who was killed during active duty; or was married to the veteran and had at least one child.
  • Remarried surviving spouses – A spouse who has remarried after age 57 may still be eligible to receive his or her first spouse’s DIC benefits.

A VA Disability Attorney Can Help You Get the Full Amount of Your Loved One’s Benefits

In addition to DIC, the spouse of a veteran may also be eligible for back payments and accrued benefits that the veteran would have been awarded if the application had been approved during his or her lifetime. As experienced VA disability attorneys, we fully investigate each of our clients’ claims to discover how many different benefits they could receive. Call our office today at 402-933-5405 for an honest assessment of your case, or learn more about filing for benefits in our free book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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