If you are a survivor of a veteran and are considering applying for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), you may be wondering how the benefit works. We share nine things that can help you if you’re a survivor planning to apply for DIC or appeal a DIC decision.
1. It’s important to read all of the requirements for DIC before applying.
One place to begin if you’re considering applying for DIC is making sure to read through all of the VA’s rules and requirements for the benefit. Understanding what DIC is and how it works can save you time and effort later on. It can also help you get a good idea of whether you qualify for the benefit, as not all survivors do.
2. Survivors have to prove their veteran died from a service-connected condition.
Being the survivor of a veteran does not automatically qualify an individual for DIC. Like disability compensation from the VA, there must be a service connection to qualify.
In the case of DIC, a survivor must be able to prove their veteran either died while on active duty, active duty training, or inactive duty training, or died as a result of a service-connected illness or injury.
3. DIC pays $1,612.75 each month, but this amount can increase for several reasons.
Factors such as the number of dependents a survivor has and the health of the survivor can impact the total amount received in a monthly DIC payment.
4. Widows and widowers of veterans don’t always need to have been legally married to be eligible for DIC.
There are three primary ways for a spouse or partner to qualify for DIC. A survivor must prove one of the following when applying for the benefit:
- They married the veteran within 15 years of their discharge from the period of military service during which the qualifying illness or injury started or got worse, or
- They were married to the veteran for at least 1 year, or
- They had a child with the veteran.
However, it’s important to also note that because marriage laws can vary from state to state, the VA may deem a marriage “valid” for DIC purposes. Some examples where this may apply include same-sex marriages and common-law marriages.
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5. Widows and widowers can remarry and still receive DIC, depending on their age.
Surviving spouses must fit one of the three criteria listed previously (#4 in this list) to be eligible for DIC. Many survivors may fit that criteria and still choose to remarry later in life. Survivors who remarried between Dec. 16, 2003 and Jan. 4, 2021 need to be 57 years or older at the time of their remarriage to still qualify for DIC. Those who remarried on or after Jan. 5, 2021 should have been 55 years or older at the time they remarried.
6. You can receive DIC and other government benefits at the same time.
For example, a person may get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and DIC benefits at the same time. Government programs have different requirements and pay out differently, but receiving one does not necessarily keep a person from receiving another.
7. You don’t need to be a widow or widower to receive DIC benefits.
One misconception is that DIC is a benefit intended only for widows and widowers of veterans, but this is not the case. Qualifying parents and children of deceased veterans can also receive these monthly payments.
- Surviving children of veterans must be under 18 years old (or under 23 if still in school) and unmarried to be eligible for DIC. They also cannot be claimed as a dependent by a widow or widower of a veteran who is also claiming DIC.
- Surviving parents of veterans may be biologically related to a veteran, but can also be foster or adoptive parents. The parent’s income level cannot exceed the amount set by the VA.
8. There are no income limits for DIC recipients.
Survivors of veterans can qualify for DIC while working part or full time and receiving other income. There is also no limit to the amount of passive or earned income a survivor can receive while getting DIC.
9. A VA-accreditedlawyer can help you navigate the process of getting DIC.
DIC claims can quickly become complicated, particularly if a veteran died as a result of a secondary condition. Gathering the necessary documents and information for a claim can also be an overwhelming, difficult process. VA-accredited attorneys are familiar with the process and can help you navigate the numerous forms, requests, and challenges when applying for DIC or appealing a DIC decision.
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