Survivor's benefits

There are a number of benefits available to surviving spouses, children, and parents of deceased veterans. These include Dependent and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Survivors Pension benefit, Burial benefits and CHAMPVA.


Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC):

DIC is a monthly benefit payable to eligible survivors of;

  • a service member who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, or;
  • a veteran who died as the result of a service-connected disability, or;
  • a veteran who was receiving (or entitled to receive) VA disability compensation at the 100% rate for at least 10 continuous years immediately before death (including 100% evaluations due Individual Unemployability (IU) as well), or since the veteran's discharge from active duty and for at least 5 years immediately preceding death, or for at least one year before death if the veteran was a former POW who died after September 30, 1999.

The surviving spouse is eligible if they validly married the veteran before January 1, 1957; or was married to a service member who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training; or married to the veteran within 15 years of separation from the period of service in which the injury or disease that caused the veteran's death began; or was married to the veteran for a minimum of one year; or had a child with the veteran, AND cohabited with the veteran continuously until the veteran's death, and is not currently remarried (a surviving spouse who remarries on or after December 16, 2003, and attained the age of 57, is entitled to continue to receive DIC).


Surviving children may be eligible for DIC if they were not included on the surviving spouse's DIC, unmarried, and under the age of 18, or between 18 and 23 and attending school.

Currently (2024) the rate for DIC is $1,612.75 monthly for an eligible surviving spouse. The rate increases for every qualifying dependent child and if the spouse is housebound or in the need of aid and attendance. The VA also adds a transitional benefit of $342.00 (2024) to the monthly DIC if there are children under the age of 18, which is based on a family unit and not on individual children.


Also if the veteran passed away on or after Janaury 1, 1993, and was in receipt of, or entitled to receive, the 100% evaluation (including 100% IU evaluations) for a continuous period of at least eight years immediately preceding death and the surviving spouse was married to the veteran for those same eight years, then the surviving spouse is also eligible for an additional monthly allowance of $342.46 (2024) as well under 38 U.S.C. § 1311(a)(2).


Note 1: The service-connected disability does not have to be granted during the veteran's life-time. Service-connection can also be awarded after the veteran's death as well.


Note 2: A claim for DIC also acts as a claim for Substitution as well!.


Note 3: If the veteran passed away on or after 12/16/2016, the VA should also 'infer' a claim for burial benefits once a claim for DIC is also received. If it is deemed that the veteran passed away of a service-connected disability, then generally VA will also award the one-time "service-connected" burial payment of $2,000.00 as well.


If you believe you have all of the needed evidence up front to attach to the claim, then you should fill out the VAF 21P-534ez rather than the 21P-534.

VAF 21P-534
PDF-Dokument [1.9 MB]
VAF 21P-534EZ
PDF-Dokument [2.2 MB]

If DIC is granted, then the Surviving spouse may also be eligible for VA's Civilian Health Care Program known as CHAMPVA as a second payer health insurance.

Parents' Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC):

Parents' DIC is an income based monthly benefit for parents of a service member or veteran who died from a disease or injury incurred while on active duty, active duty for training, or an injury incurred in the line of duty, or certain diseases while on inactive duty training, or a service-connected disability.

VAF 21P-535
PDF-Dokument [2.8 MB]

Survivor's Pension:

The Survivor pension benefit is a needs based benefit payable to a surviving spouse of a deceased veteran who had wartime service. Basic eligibility criteria exists when;

  • the deceased veteran was discharged from military service under other than dishonorable conditions, and
  • they served at least 90 days or more of active duty with at least one day during a period of war, and
  • you are a surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran, and
  • Your yearly family income and net worth meet certain limits set by Congress (2024 $155,356.00).

               - Assets include the fair market value of all your real and personal property,

                 minus the amount of any mortgages you may have. “Real property” means

                 any land and buildings you may own. Your personal property assets include

                 any of these items; investment, furniture, boats ect...

                 Assets do not include items such as your car, basic home items, and your

                 primary residence.


For example, if your assets are $140,000.00 and your annual income is $7,000.00, then this combined net worth is less than the $155,356.00 net worth limit and you would be eligible for the survivor's pension benefit.


The survivor's pension amount is based off of the difference between your countable income and a limit Congress sets, which is called Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR.

  • Countable income includes how much you earn, including your salary, investment and retirement payments, and any income you may have from your dependents. Some expenses, like non-reimbursable medical expenses (paid medical expenses not covered by your insurance provider), may reduce your countable income.
  • MAPR amount is the maximum amount of pension payable to a Veteran, surviving spouse, or child. Your MAPR is based on how many dependents you have and whether you qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits. MAPRs are adjusted each year for cost-of-living increases. The MAPR for 2024 is set at $11,102.00 (with no dependents).

For example, in the assets example above the monthly Survivor's pension amount would be calculated as follows;


MAPR amount = $11,102.00

Yearly income = $7,000.00

VA survivor's pension → $4,102.00 / 12 months = $341.83 monthly


Note: Higher MAPR amounts are calculable for dependnt children, if you're determined 'Housebound' or in the need of 'Aid and Attendance.'


To file for the survivor's pension, simply fill out either the above VAF 21-534 or 21-534ez and submit it to VA with all of your supporting documets.

Claim for substitution:

If the veteran had a claim or an appeal pending at the time of his or her passing, an eligible claimant (the surviving spouse of child) can 'substitute' themselves for the deceased veteran and continue the claim or appeal in their place. To do so the claimant must submit the VAF 21P-0847 claim within one year of the death of the veteran.

VAF 21P-0847
PDF-Dokument [990.5 KB]

For additional information regarding accrued benefits and Substitution claims, see the below "fact sheet" from VA;

Fact sheet
PDF-Dokument [213.4 KB]

If you're a surviving spouse, child, or parent of a deceased service member or veteran, you may be eligible for some of these benefits. Either Contact me for more information or you can fillout the appropriate form above and submit it VA.

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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs claims assistance for veterans worldwide. Accredited VA claims Agent pursuant 38 C.F.R. §14.629. © 2011-2024 Copyright - Kevin Janey. All rights reserved.