Surviving military spouses can sometimes receive veterans disability compensation. This benefit is called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), and it is paid on a monthly basis. DIC is available to a surviving military spouse (a widow or widower) and his or her dependent children. In some cases, a dependent parent may also be eligible for DIC.
You are eligible for DIC if VA considers you a surviving spouse (see below), and your military spouse died either:
- while receiving VA disability compensation for at least:
- 10 or more years, right up until he or she died.
- from the time of discharge for at least five years up until she or he died, or
- for at least one year, if your spouse had been a prisoner of war.
- while on active duty
- as a result of a service-connected injury or illness, or
- while on active duty for training or inactive duty training
How Does VA Define “Surviving Spouse”?
The VA will recognize you as a surviving spouse if one of the following is true.
- You were married to the veteran before January 1, 1957.
- You were married to the veteran for at least a year.
- You were married for any length of time and your spouse died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.
- You had a child with the veteran, and
- you were living with the veteran until his or her death, or
- you were separated, and the separation was not your fault.
- You married the veteran within 15 years of his or her discharge from service, and the injury or illness that caused the veteran’s death started in military service, or was made worse by service.
How Much Money Will I Receive?
Currently DIC pays $1,154 per month. If you have any children under age 18, your monthly benefit will be increased by $286 for each child. If you are housebound or need help to perform basic tasks of daily living, you will receive additional monthly benefits. To determine how much your monthly benefit might be, see the VA benefit amounts for DIC.
If you receive benefits for your children under age 18, you will generally only receive this additional benefit for two years. Or the additional benefit for your children may stop earlier if your children reach age 18 before two years have passed.
However, if you have a disabled child, the child will remain eligible for DIC even after they reach age 18 or two years have passed.
What if I Have Remarried?
It depends on when you got remarried.
If you remarried before reaching age 57 or before December 16, 2003, the VA will not consider you a surviving spouse, even if you meet the above requirements.
If you remarried after you were age 57, and after December 16, 2003, the VA will consider you a surviving spouse.
There are other survivor benefits that you and your children may be eligible for in addition to DIC, such as educational assistance, health care,and assistance with certain burial costs.
If you are not eligible for Disability and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), the VA may find that you are eligible for a VA Pension. VA Pensions do pay less than DIC and are needs-based, but if your spouse’s death wasn’t service connected and your spouse wasn’t receiving disability compensation at the time of death, it’s your only alternative. If you are on a limited income and your military spouse served during wartime, you may be eligible to receive a VA Pension.