The Veteran's Administration administers death benefits for the wives of deceased veterans. Spousal benefits that are offered include pension, health care, counseling, home loan and burial assistance. Pension benefits are need based and have income limits. If the deceased veteran died on active duty, his spouse may be eligible for additional benefits than those granted to the spouse of a veteran who was not on active duty when he died. Dishonorably discharged veterans receive no benefits.
The VA burial allowance reimburses some of the veteran's burial and funeral costs. As a spouse, you are only eligible if the veteran was honorably discharged and you have not received reimbursement from another government agency. The veteran must also have died due to a service-connected disability, while collecting a VA or military pension or compensation, or was under treatment by a VA or VA-contracted hospital. If the veteran died after 2001, the allowance offered for the burial expenses of a service-connected veteran's death at a private cemetery is $2,000 -- $1,500 if the death was prior to 2001. If it was not a service-connected death the allowance is $300 for burial and funeral expenses, and $300 for plot-internment expenses for deaths after 2001 -- $150 for deaths prior to that date. You are also entitled to a burial flag for the coffin and a headstone acknowledging your spouse's veteran status. If you bury your spouse in a national veteran's cemetery, the burial expenses are at no charge and when you die, you can be interred with your spouse.
Your spousal pension benefits are income based and if your income is too high, you are not eligible for pension benefits. Your spouse must have served at least 90 days on active duty, with at least one day during wartime, if his service was prior to 1980. Service after 1980 requires 24 months of continuous service to qualify. Your countable income must be below the limit set by law. Your net worth must be reported and can factor into the decision to grant pension benefits.
Home Loan Guarantee
If you are the spouse of a veteran who died on active duty or who died due to a service-connected disability you may be eligible for the VA home loan benefit. The VA home loan benefit is a loan guaranty program administered through select private lenders. You must apply to the VA for certification documents to present to your certified lender. Your lender may be able to obtain the certification through the VA online certification facility.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is a monthly monetary benefit payable to the spouses of deceased veterans who were on active duty or died from a service-connected illness or injury. Bereavement counseling is available at Vet Centers around the country for the survivors of a deceased veteran. You are eligible for CHAMPVA health care benefits if you are the surviving spouse of a veteran who died on active duty or from a service-connected injury or illness. Benefits can be used in conjunction with your private health insurance.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Burial Benefits; Sept. 2010
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Death Pension Benefits; Nov. 2009
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Eligibility FAQs -- Questions about who is eligible for a VA loan and reuse of eligibility for another VA loan; March 2011
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Survivors' VA Benefits; March 2011
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: What is CHAMPVA?; July 2008
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Burial Allowance Benefits; Nov. 2009
Julie Segraves is a freelance writer and photographer. She has written for several community newspapers in Chicago and authors her own blog. Segraves graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelor's in sociology and a minor in criminal justice. She currently works in the IT field as a mainframe operations analyst and disaster recovery specialist.