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. Additionally, veterans’ surviving spouses or dependents may also qualify for added support as outlined below. 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.

Surviving Spouses

To be eligible for 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:

  • You were married to the veteran or service member before January 1, 1957
  • You married the veteran or service member within 15 years of their discharge
  • You were married to the veteran for at least one year

To apply for benefits as the surviving spouse of a service member who died while on active duty, fill out and submit VA Form 21P-534a. If you are applying for benefits as the surviving spouse of a veteran, fill out and submit VA Form 21P-534EZ.

Surviving Children

Surviving children of veterans may be eligible for compensation or other benefits when certain requirements are met. Evidence supporting the claim must be presented including but not limited to military service records, doctors’ reports, and medical test results. 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

To apply for benefits as the surviving child of a service member who died while on active duty, fill out and submit VA Form 21P-534a. If you are applying for benefits as the surviving child of a veteran, fill out and submit VA Form 21P-534EZ.

Surviving Parent(s)

You may be eligible for compensation or 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

If you are applying for benefits as the surviving parent, fill out and submit VA Form 21P-535.

Other Dependents

For any and all dependents including surviving spouses, children, or parents to receive benefits, the following must be proven evident:

  • The service member died while on active duty or active duty training
  • The veteran died from a service-connected illness, injury, or disability

For benefits based on service-connected disability, veterans must have had such rating for at least 10 years before their death. 

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.

Employment

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. Services include mapping out a path to employment and planning how to best use your VA benefits.

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 you did not remarry (spouses)

To apply for CEO, fill out and submit VA Form 26-1817.

Survivors Pension

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 veterans’ disability, and benefits for veterans as well as spouses, children, and dependents. If you are a spouse or child of a deceased United States military member and are interested in the many VA benefits available to you, contact the experienced attorneys at Tuley Law Office today.