Veterans will often ask if their spouses, partners, and children if they will receive VA Disability after their death. The answer is that there are certain circumstances where a Veteran’s family might receive benefits if the Veteran dies, and the type of benefit depends on the circumstances surrounding the Veterans death. Family members may be eligible for a benefit known as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) under certain circumstances, such as:
– The Veteran dies while in the line of duty.
– The Veteran dies as a result of a service-connected disability or disease.
– The Veteran was 100% Disabled for a certain period.
To be eligible, one must meet certain criteria.
If applying as surviving child, you may be eligible for VA benefits or compensation if you:
- You are not married.
- You are under the age of 18 (or under the age of 23 if attending school)
- You are not included in the surviving spouse’s compensation.
It is also crucial to remember that you still qualify for compensation if you were adopted outside of the Veteran’s or service member’s family but meet all other eligibility requirements. You must support your claim with evidence demonstrating that the Veteran or service member meets one of the criteria listed above. Potential evidence you may use includes birth certificates, adoption certificates, marriage certificates, medical test results, doctor’s reports, and records of military service.
You need to provide evidence to prove that at least one of the following is true.
- The service member died while on active duty, active duty for training, inactive-duty training, or
- The Veteran died from a service-connected illness or injury, or
- The Veteran qualified for VA benefits for a service-connected disability that was evaluated as fully debilitating for a specified amount of time even though he or she did not pass away as a result of illness or injury sustained during service.
As a surviving parent, you may be eligible for VA benefits or compensation if:
- You are the veteran or military member’s birth, adoptive, or foster parent, and
- Your income is below a particular threshold. A foster parent is defined as someone who took up the parental responsibilities for a Veteran or active-duty service person before their final admission into the military. You must back up your claim with proof that the Veteran or service member fits one of these characteristics. Documents including medical test results, doctor’s reports, and records of military service may be used as evidence.
The service member has either died from an injury or illness while on active duty or in the line of duty while on active duty for training, or the service member died from an injury or certain illnesses in the line of duty while on inactive training or The Veteran died from a service-connected illness or injury
As the surviving spouse one of these must be true:
- You lived with the Veteran or service member without a break until their death, or
- If you are separated, you were not at fault for the separation
And one of these must be true:
- You married the Veteran or service member within 15 years of their discharge from the period of military service during which the qualifying illness or injury started or got worse, or
- You were married to the Veteran or service member for at least 1 year, or
- You had a child with the Veteran or service member
Keep in mind that you may be eligible for compensation if you remarried on or after December 16, 2003, and you were 57 years old or older at the time of your marriage, or if you remarried on or after January 5, 2021, and you were 55 years old or older at the time of your marriage. Providing that either,
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 did not 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 a certain period
If the Veteran’s eligibility was due to a rating of totally disabling, they must have had the rating for at least 10 years before their death, since their release from active duty and for at least 5 years immediately before their death, or For at least 1 year before their death if they were a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999
How To Apply
You will need to fill out an application for benefits. The application you fill out will depend on your survivor status.
Your military casualty aid officer will work with you to complete an Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child if you are the spouse or child of a service member who passed away while on active duty (VA Form 21P-534a). The officer will help you mail the form to the correct VA regional office.
If you are the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran, fill out an Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits (VA Form 21P-534EZ).
If you are a surviving parent, fill out an Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation by Parent(s) (VA Form 21P-535).
Should I submit an intent to file the form?
You might want to submit an intent to file form first before submitting an application for DIC compensation. By doing this, you can avoid a later start date and ensure that you have enough time to gather your evidence (also called an effective date). You might be qualified for payments that will go backward if you notify us that you intend to file (payments that start at a point in the past).
If you are unsure of the procedure, you can contact a seasoned Veterans Advocacy lawyer at the Law Office of Andrew P. Gross.