VA Dependancy & Indemnity Compensation
The Basics on Dependency Indemnity Compensation
Some survivors of deceased veterans are eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) through the Veterans Association (VA). These tax-free monetary benefits are designed to assist survivors of service members who have died in the line of duty or as a result of an injury or illness that was connected to their service.
Eligibility Qualifications for Spouses
For a surviving spouse to qualify for DIC benefits, the following qualifications must be met:
– Married to a service member who died during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training or
– Was married to the service member occurred before January 1, 1957 or
– Married the veteran less than 15 years after the time of discharge when the illness or injury occurred or
– Married to the service member for at least one year or
– Had a child with the service member and
– Lived with the service member continuously until the death of the service member and
– If separated from the service member, it was not at the fault of the survivor and
– Not currently remarried*
* Surviving spouses who remarried on or after December 16, 2003 or on or after turning 57 may retain their DIC.
Eligibility Qualifications for Children
The following qualifications must be met for children of deceased service members to receive DIC:
– Not be covered by the surviving spouse’s DIC and
– Be unmarried and
– Be under age 18 or between 18-23 and going to school as a student
** Children who were adopted are entitled to DIC benefits provided the above qualifications are met.
The VA requires DIC applicants to provide specific evidence to prove eligibility. Anyone applying for DIC benefits must submit the following information with the application:
– Proof that the service member died during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training or
– The veteran died as a direct result of service or
– The veteran died from a non-service related issue, but was receiving or eligible to receive compensation from the VA for a service-related disability that was rated at totally disabling:
– For a minimum of 10 years directly preceding death or
– Since the veteran’s release from active duty and no less than five years before death or
– For at least one year before death if the veteran was a former prisoner of war and died after September 30, 1999.
Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity compensation is a tax-free benefit that is provided to parents of service members who died in the line of duty or veterans who died as a result of service-related injuries or illness. These benefits are available for biological parents, adoptive parents, and foster parents. For a parent to be eligible for these benefits, the surviving parents must have an income below the amount established by the VA.
How to Apply for DIC Benefits
Anyone who wants to apply for DIC benefits needs complete one of the following tasks:
– Complete VA form 21-534, “Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child”.
– Mail the form to the Pension Management Center that serves your state
– Work in cooperation with an accredited representative or agent to fill out the appropriate paperwork.
– Go to the local VA regional office and request assistance from a trained representative
– If the service member’s death occurred during service, work in conjunction with a Casualty Assistance Officer who will assist applicants in completing VA form 21-534a, “Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child”.
– Mail the form to the local VA regional office.
The VA uses a complex method to determine the compensation rate for DIC benefits. In most cases, the VA takes into consideration the number of dependents who were left behind by the service member and any other aid or supplemental income the family receives. The VA does not take into consideration other forms of income when determining the DIC benefit amount. Currently, the VA pays a rate of $1,257.95 per month for a surviving spouse. The rate goes up for each dependent child or if the surviving spouse is confined to the house or in need of aid. The VA will also pay pay a transitional amount of $311.64 each month to the surviving spouse if there are children under the age of 18. They will also pay another $311.64 each month if the person who is receiving DIC needs aid and attendance.