Can Spouses of Deceased Veterans Receive Benefits?
Spouses and dependents of veterans are eligible for certain benefits including health care, life insurance, and tuition reimbursement. Some programs may only apply to low-income families while others depend on the veteran’s service-connected disability status. If you’re unsure whether or not you qualify for benefits as a surviving spouse or dependent, the attorneys at Tuley Law Office can help.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Dependency and indemnity compensation is a tax-free monthly benefit for eligible survivors of veterans who died from a service-related injury or illness. Benefits and qualifications vary for surviving spouses, children, parents, and other dependents.
To be eligible for DIC benefits as a surviving spouse of a veteran, you must meet certain requirements and provide evidence supporting your claim. For spousal benefits, one of the following must be true:
- Married the Veteran or service member before January 1, 1957
- 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
- Were married to the Veteran or service member for at least 1 year
Additionally, if you had a child with the Veteran or service member, aren’t currently remarried, and either lived with the Veteran or service member without a break until their death or, if separated, weren’t at fault for the separation, you may be eligible for DIC benefits.
Surviving children of veterans may be eligible for DIC benefits when certain requirements are met. The following must be true to receive benefits as a surviving child:
- You are not married
- You are under the age of 18, or under the age of 23 if attending school
- You are not included on surviving spouse’s compensation
You may be eligible for DIC benefits as a surviving parent of a veteran if both of these are true for you:
- Your income falls below a designated amount
- You are the biological, adoptive, or foster parent of the deceased veteran or service member
For any and all dependents including surviving spouses, children, or parents to receive DIC benefits, one of the following must be proven:
- The Veteran died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive-duty training
- The Veteran died from a service-connected illness or injury
- The Veteran didn’t 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 of time
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance
Survivors and dependents of veterans may qualify for educational benefits known as the DEA program. If you are the child, spouse, or dependent of a service member who has died, is missing, or has a service-connected disability, you may be eligible for educational assistance or job training through the DEA program. To qualify, one of the following must be true of the veteran:
- Is permanently and totally disabled due to service-connected disability or injury
- Died while on active duty or as a result of service-connected disability
- Is missing in action in the line of duty
Children of veterans or service members may be eligible to receive benefits if between the ages of 18 and 26. However, if you are over 18 years old and receiving DEA benefits, you cannot claim Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Spouses of veterans or service members are able to use DEA benefits while collecting DIC payments.
DEA benefits include assistance with monthly payments for college or graduate degree programs, career-training courses, educational or career counseling, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.
Surviving spouses, children, and dependents of service members or veterans are eligible to receive educational and career counseling benefits through the Career Planning and Guidance program.
Home Loan Financing for Surviving Spouses or Dependents
Surviving spouses, children, or other dependents may be eligible for a VA-backed home loan by Certificate of Eligibility (COE). In order to receive this benefit, one of the following must be true of the veteran:
- Are missing in action
- Are a prisoner of war
- Died while in service from a service-connected disability and, if your spouse, you did not remarry
To apply for CEO, fill out and submit VA Form 26-1817.
The VA Survivors Pension offers monthly payments to qualifying surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children. To qualify, you must meet income limits set by Congress and have not remarried after the veteran’s death. For VA Survivors Pension, the veteran must have:
- Entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980 and served at least 90 days in active duty, or
- Entered active duty after September 7, 1980 and served at least 24 months on active duty
Surviving spouses or unmarried dependent children must have a net worth and income that meets the limits set by Congress. Requirements for children also include one of the following:
- Must be under the age of 18
- Under the age of 23 and attending school
- Unable to care for yourself due to disability occurring before age 1
To apply for VA Survivors Pension, fill out and submit VA Form 21-534EZ.
Veterans’ Spouse Benefits After Divorce
Following divorce, a former spouse is eligible for the Continued Heath Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) for up to three years. If the former spouse of the veteran or service member remains unmarried, they may remain on CHCBP for life.
Contact Tuley Law Office Today
At Tuley Law Office, we specialize in veteran’s disability, and we can help the spouses, children, and dependents of Veterans obtain the compensation they deserve.