What Are the Qualifications for a Widow's Pension?

by Susan Reynolds ; Updated April 19, 2017
Widows of veterans can receive pensions.

A widow's pension, or VA death pension, is given to the surviving, single spouse or unmarried children of a deceased military veteran. There are several requirements a widow must meet to collect the pension money. To qualify, a widow also must have an income that is below a certain threshold, set by the U.S. Congress.

Widow's Income and Net Worth

The widow must earn an annual income that is below a certain monetary threshold. Countable income includes any money that the widow or children earn, including farm or business income, interest, disability pay, retirement pay and earnings from jobs. If children earn money, this is counted toward the widow's income limit. A widow's net worth is not counted toward the income limit. The VA will make the final decision on whether your income falls under the limit.

Veteran's Requirements

The deceased veteran must have met certain requirements in order for the surviving spouse to receive the benefit money. He must have been honorably discharged and served more than three months of active military duty. At least one day of that service had to be during a war period. If the veteran enlisted in the military after September 7, 1980, he must have served at least two years of active duty for his widow to qualify.

Other Requirements

In addition to meeting the income requirement, widows must not be remarried to qualify for the pension. There is no age requirement for a widow to collect a pension, but any children who are receiving the pension must be under 18 or in college and under the age of 23. Children also must not be married.

Application Process

Widows may apply for death benefits with VA form 21-534, which is the Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. There are several parts to the application, which can be downloaded online. You must include copies of your marriage record, children's birth certificates, discharge papers and proof of net worth and income.

About the Author

Susan Reynolds has been a writer since 2008. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of South Florida and is a licensed real estate agent in Florida.

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