If you are the surviving spouse of a veteran, the United States owes you a debt that can never truly be repaid. Though there is no way to repay you for the sacrifice you made as the spouse of a serviceman or servicewoman, the U.S. does offer a number of benefits to veterans as well as to surviving spouses. If your spouse is no longer here to help support you financially, he/she would undoubtedly want you to receive all the veterans benefits to which you are entitled as a surviving spouse.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
The most well-known benefit available to a surviving spouse is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military Servicemembers who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
To be eligible as a surviving spouse you must have been:
- Married to a Servicemember who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, OR
- Validly married the Veteran before January 1, 1957, OR
- Married the Veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the Veteran’s death began or was aggravated, OR
- Was married to the Veteran for at least one year, OR
- Had a child with the Veteran, AND
- Cohabited with the Veteran continuously until the Veteran’s death or, if separated, was not at fault for the separation, AND
- Is not currently remarried
As of 2018, the basic monthly rate of DIC is $1,283.11 for an eligible surviving spouse. The rate is increased for each dependent child, and also if the surviving spouse is housebound or in need of aid and attendance. VA also adds a transitional benefit of $317.87 to the surviving spouse’s monthly DIC if there are children under age 18.
The Survivors Pension benefit, which may also be referred to as Death Pension, is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased Veteran with wartime service.
- For service on or before September 7, 1980, the Veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service, with at least one day during a war time period.
- If he or she entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally he or she must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty with at least one day during a war time period.
- Was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions.
Survivors Pension is also based on your yearly family income, which must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify. For 2018, the maximum base rate for Survivor’s Pension is $8,830 without any dependent children or $11,557 with one dependent child.
Education and Training – GI Bill
The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) is available for children and spouses of Servicemembers who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001.
As a surviving spouse, you may be eligible for several different home loan programs that provide low-interest rate and/or no down payment loans to purchase a home, take equity out of an existing home, or to refinance a higher rate mortgage loan.
Aid & Attendance Program
The Veterans Aid & Attendance (VA&A) program provides additional monetary assistance, above and beyond that provided by other VA programs such as the VA pension program. The additional assistance is intended to help cover the cost of someone to help with daily tasks of living, such as dressing, bathing, or cooking. As of 2018, the VA&A program pays up to $2,169 per month to an eligible veteran (or up to $1,178 per month to the widow/widower of a veteran) who is in need of aid and attendance from a health care provider. To be eligible for VA&A benefits as a surviving spouse you must first be eligible for DIC benefits. In addition, you must be 65 or disabled, your spouse cannot have been dishonorably discharged, and you must have been living with the veteran at the time of their death and must be single at time of your claim.
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about veterans benefits, contact the experienced Missouri veterans benefits lawyers at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.