Veterans' Survivors' Benefits
Authored By: Atlanta Legal Aid Society Inc
Last Revised: July 2005
The death of a family member can raise many legal issues, particularly if your loved one served in the military. If your spouse, parent, or child was a veteran, you might be eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
There are three main types of benefits that may be available to survivors of veterans. Survivors may be able to get dependency and indemnity compensation, death pension benefits, and burial benefits.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
DIC is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of veterans. In order for the surviving family member to qualify for benefits, the veteran's death must have resulted from a service-related injury or disease, or meet other eligibility requirements set forth by the VA.
DIC is available to eligible surviving spouses and unmarried children under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school.
Surviving parent(s) in financial need may also be eligible for DIC.
For more comprehensive information on DIC, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs' Survivor Benefits Homepage
Death Pension Benefits
Death pension is a benefit payable to some surviving spouses and children of deceased wartime veterans. This benefit is based on financial need.
Fore more comprehensive information on death pension benefits, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs' Survivor Benefits Homepage
There are five additional benefits available at the time of a veteran's death. The available benefits are reimbursement of burial expenses, headstones and grave markers, burial flags, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and burial in a VA national cemetery.
- Reimbursement of Burial Expenses
The person who paid for the veteran's burial expenses may get reimbursed from the VA. The VA will pay a burial allowance up to $1500 if the veteran's death was service-connected. If the veteran's death was not service-connected, the VA will pay a burial and funeral expense allowance of $300 if the veteran was were eligible for pension or compensation benefits at the time of his or her death. The $300 allowance will also be paid for veterans who died in a VA facility or a nursing home with which the VA contracted.
There is no time limit for claiming reimbursement of burial expenses for a service-related death. In other cases, claims must be filed within 2 years of the veteran's burial.
- Headstones and Grave Markers
All veterans who had an other than dishonorable discharge are eligible to receive a headstone and marker. The headstones and markers are available in flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, and upright marble. The headstones and markers contain the name of the deceased veteran, the years of birth and death, and branch of service.
- Burial Flags
The next of kin of most veterans are eligible to receive an American Flag.
- Presidential Memorial Certificate
The next of kin of most veterans are eligible to receive a Presidential Memorial Certificate. This is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, honoring the memory of honorably discharged deceased veterans.
- Burial in a VA National Cemetery
Veterans and armed forces members who died on active duty are eligible for burial in one of the VA's national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service.
For more comprehensive information on all burial benefits, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs' website Veteran's Benefits - Burial Benefits and the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Association's website.