Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monthly monetary benefit payable to the surviving dependents of a deceased veteran. Although it is usually a service-connected benefit, DIC may also be authorized for certain non-service-connected deaths. There is no minimum active duty service requirement for DIC claims; however, there may be a 90-day length-of-service requirement if the cause of death was a chronic disease.
As with disability compensation for a veteran, DIC for a surviving spouse and/or surviving children is not income-based. It is the benefit payable if the veteran died while on active duty, in line of duty and not due to willful misconduct; or, when death was after service, if a service-connected disability either directly caused, or contributed substantially to and materially hastened, the veteran's death.
It is not required that service-connection have been established prior to the veteran's death for the condition which caused or contributed to death. The rules and procedures for establishing service connection for a veteran's death are essentially similar to those for establishing a service-connected disability for a living veteran, with due consideration of the finality of the evidence in a death claim.
Since 1978, DIC has been payable as if the death were service-connected when a veteran who had been rated totally disabled from service-connected causes (whether 100% or by reason of individual un-employability) for ten continuous years or longer at the time of death dies from any cause other than willful misconduct. If the veteran was out of service less than ten years, DIC is payable if a total disability rating was in effect for a period of at least five continuous years, from the date the veteran left service to the date of death. Since November 30, 1999, DIC is payable to the surviving spouse and/or children of a former prisoner of war who was rated totally disabled from service-connected causes for at least one year at the time of death, and who died from any cause (other than willful misconduct) after September 30, 1999.
DIC is also payable as if the death were service-connected, if the veteran dies as a result of VA examination, hospital care, medical or surgical treatment, Vocational Rehabilitation, or, since November 1, 2001, a program of Compensated Work Therapy; or if a disability arising from such circumstances either directly causes, or contributes substantially to and materially hastens, the veteran's death.
DIC rates payable for a surviving spouse and/or children are dependent on a number of factors, including when the veteran died and the number and status of any dependent children.
Surviving spouses of veterans who died on or after January 1, 1993, receive a basic rate, plus additional payments for dependent children, for the aid and attendance of another person if they are patients in a nursing home or require the regular assistance of another person, or if they are permanently housebound. If the veteran was totally disabled for eight continuous years prior to death, surviving spouses may receive an additional $233.
DIC PAYMENT RATES FOR SURVIVING SPOUSES(Veterans who died on or after January 1, 1993)
Basic Payment Rate
If veteran was in receipt of or entitled to service-connected compensation rated totally disabled at the time of death for a period of 8 continuous years preceding the death and the surviving spouse was married to the veteran for those 8 years
Each Dependent Child
Aid and Attendance
Surviving spouses of veterans who died prior to January 1, 1993, receive an amount based on the deceased's military pay grade.
DIC PAYMENT RATES FOR SURVIVING SPOUSES(Veterans who died before January 1, 1993)
The phrase "entitled to receive compensation" also means that if a total disability rating had been denied during the veteran's lifetime, the denial was either due to clear and unmistakable error, or new and material evidence in the form of additional relevant service records was submitted (either before or after the veteran's death) which would allow retroactive assignment of a total disability rating for the requisite period of time. The enhanced rate would not be payable if the spouse was not married to the veteran for the entire eight-year period or if the veteran had not applied for benefits (or if the veteran was out of service less than eight years at the time of death).
Additional amounts are also payable to or for a disabled surviving spouse who is housebound or who is in need of regular aid and attendance, as set out in 38 CFR § 3.351. Beginning January 1, 2005, a surviving spouse with one or more children under age 18 will be paid an additional $301 per month for a transitional period of 24 months from the date entitlement to DIC begins or until the last child reaches age 18, whichever occurs first. This amount is in addition to any other DIC rates payable to the surviving spouse.
If there is an eligible surviving spouse, the veteran's minor children are considered to be additional dependents on the spouse's award. If the children are in the spouse's custody, they are included on the spouse's basic award. A child not in the spouse's custody will be paid his or her share of DIC on a separate award.
If there is no eligible surviving spouse, there are specified rates for the veteran's children, in equal shares, up to the time of each child's 18th birthday. Upon reaching age 18, each child attains independent entitlement to DIC without regard to whether there is an eligible surviving spouse. DIC may only be paid to or for a child after age 18 if the child is attending an approved educational institution or is determined to be permanently incapable of self-support (helpless). DIC for school attendance may not be paid concurrently with Dependents' and Survivors' Education Assistance under VA Chapter 35; however, if the child has been found to be "helpless," there is no restriction against concurrent payment, since in this case the DIC is not paid because of school attendance.
To apply, complete and submit the application for DIC for a surviving spouse and/or children using VA Form 21-534, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child. For assistance, contact the local County Veterans Service Office.
DIC may be payable to a veteran's surviving parent(s) if the veteran's death is service-connected or is compensable. Parents' DIC is income-based; however, the income limits are adjusted periodically. The adjusted limits are published in the "Notices" section of the Federal Register and are listed in Adjudication Manual M21-1, Part I, Appendix B. All of the parents' family income from all sources is counted unless specifically excluded. Medical and certain other expenses, paid by the parent and/or family and not reimbursed from any source, may be deducted from otherwise-countable income to reduce the levels used for determining pension rates payable.
A parent's marital status is not a factor in eligibility but does affect the applicable income limit(s): different income limits apply according to whether one or both parents survive and, if both, whether they are married to each other or have or have not remarried. Net worth is not a factor for parents' DIC.
Additional amounts are payable if one or both parents are in need of Aid and Attendance. If the amount of the total annual benefit payable is less than 4% of the maximum rate, payments will be made semi-annually unless monthly payments are specifically requested. When DIC has been (or will be) awarded, if either parent is awarded any amount from a judicial proceeding, settlement, or compromise by reason of the veteran's death, DIC payments to or for that parent must be withheld until the full amount of such award has been recovered.
The application for parents' DIC is VA Form 21-535, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation by Parent(s). Please see the local County Veterans Service Office for assistance. DIC claims from surviving dependent parents of veterans who die while on active duty are under the initial jurisdiction of VA Regional Office and Insurance Center (VAROIC) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; all others are processed by the VA Regional Office which would have jurisdiction based on the veteran's address at time of death, or the Regional Office having jurisdiction for the address of the surviving spouse and/or children (if any).
It is not required that a dependent have been recognized prior to the veteran's death. Note that in certain cases there are time limits for recognition of a surviving spouse for benefits purposes. In general, when the marriage occurred after service, the surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran for at least one year prior to the veteran's death or for any length of time if a child was born of the marriage or was born to them before the marriage.
Alternatively, for service-connected deaths only, the marriage may have been for any length of time if it took place within fifteen years after the end of the period of service during which the condition which caused or contributed to the veteran's death was incurred or aggravated. For example, for a Vietnam-era veteran, the marriage would have to have been before May 7, 1990, fifteen years after the end of the Vietnam Era. There are no marriage length requirements if the marriage occurred while the veteran was in service, or before service, or if a married service member dies while on active duty.
Even if the marriage between the surviving spouse and the veteran cannot be recognized for VA purposes because of some legal impediment, it may still be "deemed valid" for VA benefits purposes providing several requirements are all met:
If the veteran and the surviving spouse had lived in a common-law relationship, then even if such relationship was not legally recognized in their state of residence, it also may still be "deemed valid" for VA benefits purposes if all of the above requirements are satisfied.
Remarriage of a surviving spouse generally terminates eligibility for DIC. Eligibility may be reestablished if the remarriage is terminated by death, divorce, or annulment. Beginning January 1, 2004, a surviving spouse age 57 or older who is eligible for DIC and related benefits and who remarries will not lose any eligibility because of such remarriage.
To qualify for DIC, a surviving spouse must meet the requirements below.The surviving spouse was:
Note: A surviving spouse who remarries on or after December 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, is entitled to continue to receive DIC.
Eligibility (Surviving Child)
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