Thousands of U.S. Armed Forces draftees and volunteers have served to protect the United States of America. In return for the sacrifices they have made, the U.S. is committed to taking care of the surviving family members of its deceased active duty service members and qualified veterans. The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) program is a part of that commitment and includes the allocation of benefits to the surviving spouse of a qualified veteran.
DIC Qualified Veterans
Qualified veterans have sustained a disabling injury or illness while training or on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) classifies and compensates these individuals as service-connected veterans. An eligible spouse of a deceased service-connected veteran is entitled to receive DIC benefits.
Surviving Spouse Eligibility
A surviving spouse is eligible for DIC benefits if she was married to a service-connected veteran for a minimum of one year prior to his death. The spouse is entitled to receive DIC benefits for a non-service-connected cause-of-death if the deceased veteran was 100 percent service connected for a minimum of 10 years before his death. The surviving spouse will need to contact the VA with proof of the relationship to file a claim to collect DIC benefits. The VA will discontinue DIC benefits if the surviving spouse remarries before age 57. The VA will reinstate the benefits when the spouse reaches age 57 or if the remarriage ends in death or divorce.
If a service-connected veteran died before January 1, 1993, his surviving spouse will receive an entitlement based on the veteran’s last active duty pay grade. As of 2009, the surviving spouse of a veteran whose final pay grade was E-1 through E-6 received $1,154 per month, and the entitlement for pay grades E-7 through E-9 ranged between $1,194 and $1,419 per month. As of 2009, the surviving spouse of a veteran who died after January 1, 1993 received $1,154 per month. After 2009, there was not a cost of living allowance increase, so the entitlement amounts were the same for 2010.
Surviving Spouse With Children
A surviving spouse will receive an additional $286 per month for each of the veteran’s minor children who are under age 18 and not married. If the child of a veteran attends a VA approved college or university, the entitlement for that child extends until age 23. If the veteran’s child is disabled, the entitlement is a lifetime benefit. The surviving spouse will receive a $250 per month transitional stipend for up to two years while the veteran’s minor children are in the household. If the veteran’s children are no longer in the household prior to the end of the two-year period, the transitional payments will cease.
Additional DIC Benefits
A surviving spouse is entitled to receive an additional DIC benefit of $246 per month if the following conditions are met: the deceased veteran was identified as having a 100 percent service-connected disability for a minimum of eight years preceding death, and the spouse lived with the veteran during the same eight-year period. The VA pays an additional $286 per month to a spouse who requires assistance and aid. An additional payment of $135 per month is granted if the surviving spouse is home bound.
Cheryl Frazier is a freelance writer with more than 12 years of business analysis and technical writing experience. She attended the University of California, Irvine and Pepperdine University and has provided business analysis consulting and technical knowledge content to such industries as construction, entertainment, health care, retail and technology.