What Monthly Benefits are Available for the Families of Deceased Disabled Veterans?

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. What monthly benefits are you eligible for as a family member?

Requirements for Families to Collect Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) 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’ family members must meet the following qualifications:

  • Veteran – The veteran must have died during active duty (or in a training exercise), as a result of a service-connected disability, or while receiving or eligible for 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. Alternatively, if one of the veteran’s service-connected disabilities  is proven to be the principal or contributory cause of death the family member may be eligible for DIC benefits.

    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.

  • Surviving dependent parent – VA benefits are payable to eligible dependent parents in some circumstances. Proof of relationship and income limits are required.

  • Child- A surviving child  may be eligible for DIC benefits if unmarried, of qualifying age(under age 18 or between 18 and 23 if pursuing an education) or must be permanently incapable of self support prior to age 18.

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

A surviving spouse should submit VA form 21-534 along with the veteran’s death certificate, DD-214 and a copy of the marriage certificate.  Unless a claim for dependency and indemnity compensation or death pension is filed within one year from the date of the veteran's death, that benefit is not payable from a date earlier than the claim is received in the VA.There may be other information requested. 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 can evaluate and appeal your claim if it is denied. 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
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska