Death / Widows Benefits

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Payments are authorized for surviving spouses, children and parents of service personnel or veterans who die on or after January 1, 1957, from:
  • a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty while on active duty or active duty for training
  • an injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty while on inactive duty training
Benefits also may be paid to surviving spouses and children of veterans whose death was not related to military service but who immediately before death suffered total service-connected disability for 10 or more years; or continuously since discharge, for not less than 5 years.

Effective January 1, 1993, a basic rate is paid, without regard to the veteran's military pay grade. There may be additional payments for children under age 18 and for spouses in need of aid and attendance or those permanently housebound because of disability.

Children of the veteran may be eligible for DIC in their own right when the surviving spouse is ineligible for any reason.

Children who are determined to have become helpless prior to age 18 or those between the ages of 18 and 23 years who are attending an approved course of instruction may continue to receive benefits with the amount dependent upon whether a surviving spouse is also entitled.

Monthly payments to dependent parents depend on income and marital status. Parents may also be paid additional monthly amounts if in need of regular aid and attendance.

Educational Assistance for Dependents

If you are permanently and completely disabled from service-connected causes, should die as a result of service, or should die while completely disabled from service-connected causes, the VA will pay a monthly allowance to help educate your spouse and each son or daughter. In some instances, handicapped children may begin a special vocational or restorative course as early as age 14. These payments are usually provided for children between the ages of 18 and 26 and their marriage is not a bar to this benefit.

A surviving spouse's remarriage terminates entitlement. The period of entitlement extends for 10 years from the date of eligibility. An eligible dependent may have his or her eligibility date extended due to a disability.
Military Service Requirements
Wartime Service Dates
Period From To Other Criteria
Mexican Border May 9, 1916 Apr 5, 1917 1 or more days in Mexico, on the borders thereof, or adjacent waters
World War I Apr 6, 1917 Nov 11, 1918

April 6, 1917 Apr 1, 1920 Service in Russia

April 6, 1917 July 1, 1921 Those having 1 day of service before Nov 12, 1918 and served after Nov 11, 1918 and before Jul 2, 1921
World War II Dec 7, 1941 Dec 31, 1946
Korean Conflict Jun 27, 1950 Jan 31, 1955
Vietnam Era Aug 5, 1964 May 7, 1975
Persian Gulf Aug 2, 1990 To be Determined
Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty Death Benefit
A death benefit may be payable to a designated survivor if the service person's death is in service and is service connected. The service person must have been eligible for the Montgomery G. I. Bill at the time of death or would have been eligible. VA will pay an amount equal to the participant's actual military pay reduction less any education benefits previously paid or any accrued benefits paid.

Non-service-Connected Death Pension
Death pension is a monthly benefit awarded to a surviving spouse and to eligible children of veterans with honorable wartime service, and whose death was unrelated to the service. The monthly amount of the benefit is regulated by income and may be awarded to a surviving spouse who meets the income guidelines. Changes in dependency or income may be a factor in determining entitlement to pension and the monthly payment amount. The remarriage of a widow or widower will terminate the eligibility to death pension.

Surviving spouses and unmarried children under age 18, or until age 23 if attending an approved course of instruction, may be eligible for pension if their income does not exceed certain limits. Children who become permanently incapable of self-support because of physical or mental disability before age 18 may receive pension as long as the disability remains and they do not marry.

An additional allowance is payable to a surviving spouse who is a patient in a nursing home or otherwise determined to be in need of regular aid and attendance or who is permanently housebound because of a disability.

Last illness and burial expenses of the veteran may be used to reduce income. Please contact your County Veterans Services Officer before paying final expenses to determine your eligibility for this benefit.

Presidential Memorial Certificates
The President expresses the nation's gratitude for the veteran's honorable service in the armed forces by providing a memorial certificate bearing the President's signature to the next of kin and other family members of deceased veterans. This program was initiated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy and has been continued by all subsequent presidents. Eligible recipients may include next of kin, other related person and friends of the veteran. A certificate awarded to one eligible person does not preclude issuance to other family members or friends. VA initiates a request on a family's behalf when a recently deceased veteran's survivor files a claim for benefits or notifies a VA regional office of a veteran's death.

Reinstated Entitlement Program for Survivors (REPS)
REPS pays benefits similar to social security benefits after social security payments cease for some surviving spouses and some unmarried children over age 18 and attending school. To be eligible for REPS benefits, the survivors must have entitlement based on a veteran's service-connected death which occurred prior to August 13, 1981, or based on their death resulting from service-connected disability acquired before August 13, 1981.

In these limited cases, a surviving spouse who no longer qualified for social security as a parent of a child under age 16, may qualify for REPS payments if a child between the ages of 16 and 18 is in the spouse's custody. A child over age 18 and less than 22 may qualify for payments when attending a full-time course of education. The educational course must be approved and be a post secondary course.