Veterans who currently receive VA benefits naturally want to ensure that their spouses and dependents are cared for as well. Although spouses and dependents may already qualify for benefits during the veteran’s life, what happens when the veteran passes away?
The good news is that there are several forms of support available for surviving spouses and dependents. The Oklahoma City veterans disability benefits team of Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC takes a look.
What Is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)?
DIC is a monthly payment program for surviving spouses, dependent children, and parents of deceased veterans. These benefits are tax-free and are intended to assist beneficiaries if the veteran’s passing meets one of the following criteria:
- The veteran passed away while on active duty, active duty training, or inactive duty training;
- The veteran passed away because of a service-connected condition; or
- The veteran’s passing was not service-related, but the veteran received disability benefits for a totally disabling condition (100 rating) for:
- At least 10 years before death, or
- At least five years before death and starting immediately after discharge, or
- At least 1 year prior to death if the veteran was a POW.
As of 2023, the DIC monthly rate is $1,562.74. Survivors may be able to claim additional amounts if certain criteria are met. For example, a surviving spouse may be disabled and require assistance with regular daily activities. The spouse could qualify for an added Aid and Attendance benefit of $387.15 per month. Talk to an Oklahoma City VA benefits attorney to learn more about these additional types of compensation.
The Survivors Pension
The VA offers a survivors pension to surviving spouses and dependent children of wartime veterans. Income and net worth criteria, set by Congress, apply. Spouses must not have remarried and children must be of a certain age or have a qualifying disability. For the spouse, the veteran’s service must have met specific requirements as well.
The survivors pension is similar to DIC, but the VA will not award both. Rather, you will receive whichever benefit pays the most. An experienced Oklahoma City veterans benefits attorney can provide additional guidance about the program.
Surviving spouses and dependents who don’t qualify for TRICARE may be eligible for CHAMPVA. The acronym stands for Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs. This program helps cover the costs of certain medical services and supplies.
A survivor must be ineligible for TRICARE and also be:
- The spouse or child of a veteran who has been rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability; or
- The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability; or
- The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who at death was rated permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability; or
- The surviving spouse or child of a service member who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct
Your circumstances may qualify you instead for TRICARE, so check with an Oklahoma City veterans benefits lawyer.
Providing the Peace of Mind You and Your Family Deserve
There are other programs, including some available through the Department of Defense. Our goal at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC is to assist veterans with all aspects of their VA benefits. That includes helping them understand how their spouses and dependents may be supported following their deaths. To learn more about VA disability compensation for you and your family, reach out to us today.