When veterans die from a service-connected disability, some of their survivors are entitled to a monthly benefit called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Surviving spouses, children, and parents qualify under specific eligibility rules. This article will focus on DIC benefits for widows.
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In this article about VA surviving spouse benefits
Introduction to DIC benefits for widows
When a military service member is in training across the county or serving around the world, the spouse becomes the rock of the family.
When a husband or wife returns home from service with disabling illnesses or injuries, the spouse once again assumes a caretaking role–for the family and their wounded or ailing warrior.
And when a disabled veteran dies, the widow or widower is left behind to grieve while trying to hold together their family, their finances, and themselves.
As much as anyone would like to spare you from your pain, we have all learned that death and grief are unavoidable, and, unfortunately, your mortgage and other bills do not pause for difficult times.
Survivors who have lost a spouse to a service-connected disability are eligible to receive a monthly DIC payment of $1,562.74. The payment increases with dependents and special circumstances, which will be explained later (see DIC payment amounts).
DIC eligibility requirements
Here are the qualifications that must be met for a widow to receive DIC payments following the death of a spouse.
DIC qualifications for veterans
A spouse who applies for DIC benefits must provide evidence that one of the following is true:
- The service member died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive-duty training, or
- The veteran died from a service-connected illness or injury (or the veteran’s service-connected disability contributed to the veteran’s passing), or
- The veteran didn’t die from a service-connected illness or injury, but was eligible to receive VA compensation for a service-connected disability rated as totally disabling for at least 8 years before death
DIC qualifications for surviving spouses
To receive DIC benefits, a spouse must have lived with the veteran without a break until the veteran’s death. If the couple was separated, the law says the widow can still collect payments if not at “fault” for the separation.
A surviving spouse must also meet one of the following conditions:
- 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
- Married to the veteran for at least 1 year, or
- Had a child with the veteran
The marriage requirement includes couples that are in a “deemed valid marriage” for a year. “Deemed valid” means your relationship meets common-law marriage standards regardless of whether you live in a state that legally recognizes common-law marriages.
The law also has a rule about cohabitation. The couple must have continuously lived or cohabited with each other for the length of their marriage–unless they lived apart for medical reasons or because of marital discord but with no intention of leaving each other.
Can a widow of a veteran remarry and receive DIC benefits?
Here are the circumstances in which a widow can remarry and continue receiving DIC benefits:
- If you remarried on or after Dec. 16, 2003, and you 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
DIC payment amounts
Widows who are eligible for DIC receive a monthly payment of $1,562.74. They will receive additional amounts under the following circumstances:
- Add $331.84 if the veteran at the time of death was in receipt of or entitled to receive compensation for a service-connected disability rated totally disabling (including a rating based on Individual Unemployability) for a continuous period of at least 8 years immediately preceding death AND the surviving spouse was married to the veteran for those same 8 years
- Add $387.15 for each dependent child under age 18
- Add $387.15 if the surviving spouse is entitled to Aid and Attendance benefits
- Add $181.37 if the surviving spouse is housebound
- Add $332.00 for the first 2 years after the veteran’s death if the surviving spouse has one or more children under 18 on the award, regardless of the number of children
Get help with your DIC benefits claim
Woods and Woods has worked with many widows and widowers. We have seen the weight of their grief after losing a spouse–especially one who strongly and proudly served in the military.
The last thing a surviving spouse wants to deal with during the grieving process is the VA. Yet, the years of medical bills and the loss of a veteran’s VA disability payments can be devastating to your finances.
If you have not yet filed an application for DIC benefits, we can help. Woods and Woods never charges to help you file, and if the VA grants you benefits on the initial application, you owe us nothing. If you hire us to handle your appeal, we never ask for money upfront. We will only charge a fee (a percentage of back pay) and case expenses if we win, and we will never touch your future benefits.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
No. The VA will not consider income or assets when determining a widow’s eligibility for DIC benefits. Pension benefits do have income limits, but DIC benefits are compensation, not a pension, and therefore have no income limit.
Yes. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and DIC benefits can be received at the same time. Widows who wish to receive both must apply for each separately. Each benefit has its own rules and regulations.