Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for a Veteran’s Survivors

Dependency Indemnity Compensation, or DIC, is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of deceased veterans — a spouse, unmarried child, and in some cases, parent. For survivors to qualify for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, the deceased veteran must meet one of the following criteria:

  • A veteran who died on active duty

  • A veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease

  • A veteran whose death resulted from a non-service-related injury or disease, and who was receiving, or was entitled to receive, VA compensation for a service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling (this includes veterans who were receiving 100 percent disability compensation due to “unemployability,”)

    • For at least 10 years immediately before death

    • Since the veteran’s release from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death

    • For at least one year before death if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999

Eligible spouses include those who meet one of the following conditions:

  • Married the veteran before January 1, 1957

  • Was married to a service member who died on active duty

  • Married the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the veteran’s death began or was aggravated

  • Was married to the veteran for at least one year

  • Had a child with the veteran and lived with the veteran continuously until the veteran’s death or, if separated, was not at fault for the separation

Spouses who remarry before the age of 57 lose their entitlement to benefits, unless that marriage ends. However, due to a change in the law, this doesn’t apply to those who remarry on or after December 16, 2003.

If there is no eligible spouse, surviving children of the deceased veteran are eligible for DIC in their own right. Eligible children include unmarried children under the age of 18, or age 23 if attending school. Also eligible are unmarried children who became physically or mentally incapable of self-care before age 18.

Surviving parents with low incomes may be eligible to receive DIC payments. The term parent includes biological, adoptive, and foster parents. A foster parent is a person who stood in the relationship of a parent to the veteran for at least one year before the veteran’s last entry into active duty.

Like the death pension benefit, this program is needs-based, and only parents with a countable income less than the limit established by law are eligible.

DIC payment rates depend on several factors, the most significant being when the veteran died. The 2008 basic monthly rate for surviving spouses of eligible veterans who died on or after January 1, 1993, is $1,091. The rate is increased for each dependent child, and also if the surviving spouse is housebound or in need of aid and attendance. This table contains 2008 rates.

2008 DIC Rates for Veterans Who Died on or after January 1, 1993
If You Are a . . . Monthly DIC Rate Is
Surviving spouse with no dependent children $1,091
Surviving spouse with one dependent child $1,362
Housebound surviving spouse with no dependents $1,219
Housebound surviving spouse with one dependent $1,347
Surviving spouse who needs aid and attendance with no dependents $1,362
Surviving spouse who needs aid and attendance with one dependent $1,633
Note: For each additional qualifying child Add $271

In addition to the rates shown in the table, the VA pays a transitional benefit of $250 to the surviving spouse’s monthly DIC if there are children under age 18. The amount is based on a family unit, not on the number of children.

An additional allowance of $233 per month is also paid if, at the time of death, the veteran was entitled to receive 100 percent disability compensation for a service-connected disability (including a rating based on individual unemployability) 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.

When there is no surviving spouse, eligible children are entitled to DIC, payable in equal shares, at the following monthly rates divided by the number of children:

  • One child, $462

  • Two children, $663

  • Three children, $865

  • More than three children, $865, plus $165 for each child in excess of three

DIC rates for veterans who died before January 1, 1993, vary according to the military rank the veteran held at the time of discharge from the military. Current rates can be found on the Compensation page of the VA’s website.

The DIC is a needs-based program, and a veteran’s parents are eligible only if their annual income is below established levels. Monthly DIC rates depend on the parents’ annual countable income. Current rates can be found on the Compensation page of the VA’s website.

For 2008 the income limits are:

  • Sole surviving parent unmarried or remarried living with spouse: $7,449

  • One of two parents not living with spouse: $5,649

  • One of two parents living with spouse or other parent: $6,362

The magic wand for applying for DIC is VA Form 21-534, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by Surviving Spouse or Child. You can pick up this form at any VA regional office or download it from the Forms page VA’s website.

Mail the completed form to the VA regional office that has responsibility for the state where you live.

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