Benefits For Survivors Of Veterans
As a surviving spouse or dependent child of a U.S. Military service member who died under a limited set of different circumstances, you may qualify for benefits, including help with burial costs and survivor compensation through a program known as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
DIC is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of a military service member who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training; in addition, DIC benefits can also be potentially accessed if you are the surviving spouse or dependent of a veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease, a veteran who was entitled to receive VA Compensation for service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling for a duration of at least 10 years, or a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999.
Both surviving spouses and dependent children are eligible for DIC benefits under the correct circumstances. The surviving spouse can qualify if he or she were married to a service member who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training; in addition, the surviving spouse must not have remarried.
When it comes to DIC benefits for spouses of veterans, the surviving spouse must have married the veteran before January 1, 1957, or married the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the time in which the disease or injury that caused the veteran’s death began, or have been married to the veteran for at least one year, or had a child with the veteran. In addition, the surviving spouse had to have cohabited with the veteran until their death, and has not since remarried.
As for DIC benefits for surviving dependent children, the qualifications are that they are not included on the surviving spouse’s DIC benefits, they are unmarried, and under the age of 18; however, that age range is extended to 23 if they are attending school at the time.
As for the DIC benefits themselves, an eligible surviving spouse can expect to receive $1,340 per month, although that amount is increased by $332 if they have dependent children under the age of 18; that increase is for the overall number of children – regardless of how many – and not per child. An additional $332 per month is possible as well if the surviving spouse has a disability or is otherwise housebound and in need of further financial assistance.
Survivors Pension with Aid and Attendance (SPAA)
Another program that may assist eligible surviving dependents of deceased wartime veterans is known as Survivors Pension with Aid and Attendance (SPAA). In order to qualify for the pension, the deceased veteran must have been honorably discharged from the service, and had served 90 days or more of active duty with at least one day taking place during a period of war. SPAA eligibility is available to the surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran, provided that their annual income is below a certain set level.
Unlike DIC benefits which are set, SPAA benefits can vary based on the eligible surviving dependents’ income level, ranging from $9,224 to $17,586 annually – separated into 12 equal monthly payments – with additional allowances if the surviving spouse has more than one dependent child. The full breakdown, as of 2020, is as follows:
|For a Surviving Spouse||Yearly||Monthly|
|Without Dependent Child||$9,224||$768|
|With One Dependent Child||$12,072||$1,006|
|Housebound Without Dependents||$11,273||$939|
|Housebound With One Dependent||$14,116||$1,176|
|Aid and Attendance Without Dependents||$14,742||$1,228|
|Aid and Attendance With One Dependent||$17,586||$1,465|
|Add for Each Additional Child||$2,351|
|MAPR FOR CHILD ALONE||$2,351|
A claim for survivor pension by any dependent is always also a claim for DIC, as well as for any available accrued benefits that were pending and unresolved at the time of the veteran’s death.
Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Surviving dependents are also eligible for medical assistance as well; the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a program that shares the cost of covered health care services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries for dependents of veterans and service members who died from service-connected disability. There are no premiums associated with this insurance, but co-pays for services must be paid.
CHAMPVA eligibility for surviving dependents depends on several factors: that the veteran or service member died while on active duty; died from a service-connected disability; or permanently totally disabled at the time of death, as long as such injury was not the result of willful misconduct.
As per DIC benefits, a surviving spouse may qualify for CHAMPVA if they are unmarried, as can minor children under age 18; that age range is extended to 23 if they are attending school at the time, and can be extended indefinitely if the child is deemed permanently disabled or otherwise incapable of supporting themselves.
VA Guaranteed Home Loans
And finally, a surviving spouse may also be eligible for a VA-guaranteed home loan. A VA loan is a mortgage guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and is designed to offer long-term financing to eligible American veterans or their surviving spouses (provided they do not remarry). The basic intention of the VA direct home loan program is to supply home financing to eligible veterans in areas where private financing is not generally available and to help veterans or their surviving spouses purchase properties with no down payment.
The VA loan allows veterans or their surviving spouses financing without private mortgage insurance, which enables more of the mortgage payment to go directly towards the loan amount, allowing for larger loans with the same payment.