The VA offers a wide variety of benefits for widows and other survivors of veterans, including DIC payments, burial benefits, pensions, and more. We answer some frequently asked questions about who is eligible for these benefits, how they work, and how survivors can ensure they receive everything owed to them by the VA.
In this list of questions about VA benefits for spouses:
- 1. Does a veteran need to die in service for a widow or widower to get benefits?
- 2. How do I apply for VA death benefits upon my mom or dad’s death?
- 3. What does the VA pay for when a veteran dies?
- 4. Can a veteran get both disability benefits and DIC at the same time?
- 5. Can suicide be considered a service-related cause of death for DIC?
- 6. How long do you have to be married to a veteran to get benefits?
- 7. Who qualifies for VA survivor compensation benefits?
- 8. How much is DIC for surviving spouses?
- 9. Is VA DIC a lifetime benefit?
- 10. Will I lose DIC benefits if I remarry?
1. Does a veteran need to die in service for a widow or widower to get benefits?
No, a veteran does not need to die in service for their spouse to qualify for survivor benefits. However, each type of VA survivor benefit has its own requirements and qualifications. For example, some benefits may only be available to survivors if a veteran died due to a service-connected condition or if the veteran had a certain character of discharge from the military.
2. How do I apply for VA death benefits upon my mom or dad’s death?
Children of veterans can receive several VA survivor benefits in the event of their parent’s death. However, factors including the child’s age and marital status can affect eligibility.
In order to apply for these benefits, you should first use the VA’s website to determine if you are eligible. Next, you’ll want to gather all the necessary information and documentation the VA requires about yourself and your parent. This information may be slightly different from one benefit to the next, so be sure to read carefully and prepare properly for any benefits you wish to receive. Finally, you can apply online on the VA’s website.
3. What does the VA pay for when a veteran dies?
In the event of a qualifying veteran’s death, the VA may pay for the burial and memorial service. They may cover grief counseling as well.
Several other VA benefits are available to children and spouses of both living and deceased veterans.
4. Can a veteran get both disability benefits and DIC at the same time?
If two married veterans qualify for disability benefits and one dies, the survivor is able to receive both their own disability benefits and DIC for their deceased spouse.
Because the two are separate claims for different types of compensation benefits, there would be two separate sets of paperwork and two separate claim files to review. The surviving spouse could receive both payments simultaneously.
5. Can suicide be considered a service-related cause of death for DIC?
It is possible for a survivor to receive DIC benefits from the VA if their veteran commits suicide. Just like with other requests for benefits, a claim requires lay and medical evidence to support it. If a veteran dies by suicide and had been rated for a service-connected mental health condition at the time of their death, this could be more compelling evidence that the suicide is service-connected.
The VA uses 38 CFR § 3.302 when considering service connection for a veteran’s suicide.
6. How long do you have to be married to a veteran to get benefits?
To be eligible for DIC payments, a surviving spouse must have lived with their veteran without a break throughout their marriage until the veteran’s death, with a couple of exceptions. If the couple was ever separated, the survivor may still be eligible if they are not considered at “fault” for the separation.
A surviving spouse is defined as meeting one of the following conditions:
- They married (or entered a marriage “deemed valid” by the VA) within 15 years of the veteran’s discharge from the period of military service during which the qualifying illness or injury started or got worse, or
- They were married to (or in a marriage “deemed valid” by the VA with) the veteran for at least 1 year, or
- They had a child with the veteran
7. Who qualifies for VA survivor compensation benefits?
Surviving parents, spouses, and children of veterans may all be eligible for monthly DIC payments. Eligibility is different depending on how you are related to the veteran.
To qualify, the veteran must have died in the line of duty or from a service-connected condition. The only exceptions are veterans who did not die from a service-connected condition but were rated for a condition considered totally disabling by the VA for 8 years or more before their death.
8. How much is DIC for surviving spouses?
The standard rate for DIC payments for surviving spouses is $1,562.74. There are several different circumstances that can increase this amount, including the number of dependent children the surviving spouse has.
9. Is VA DIC a lifetime benefit?
Surviving spouses can continue receiving DIC benefits for the rest of their life unless they remarry before a certain age.
Surviving parents may receive DIC payments for the rest of their lives as long as their income qualifies. Their payment amounts are also different.
Surviving children can receive DIC benefits until they are either 18 years old or 23 years old if they are still in school. They must also be unmarried.
10. Will I lose DIC benefits if I remarry?
A surviving spouse can remarry and continue receiving DIC benefits only once they reach a certain age. This is under debate as of the Summer of 2023, so you might want to subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with any changes to VA law.
If you remarried on or after Dec. 16, 2003, and were 57 years of age or older at the time you remarried, or if you remarried on or after Jan. 5, 2021, and you were 55 years of age or older at the time you remarried, you can still receive your monthly DIC payments.
Surviving spouses who remarry before the ages listed will lose their DIC benefits.
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