What are survivors' benefits?
If your spouse, parent, or child was a veteran, you might be eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Back to top
What are the most common benefits for survivors?
There are many types of benefits that may be available to survivors of veterans. Survivors may be able to get:
dependency and indemnity compensation,
survivors pension benefits,
education and training benefits, and
home loan help.
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 information on DIC, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs' Survivor Benefits website.
Survivors Pension Benefits
Survivors pension is a benefit payable to some surviving spouses and children of deceased wartime veterans. This benefit is based on financial need.
Surviving family members of a Veteran may qualify for health care benefits. The two most common health care options are TRICARE and CHAMPVA.
TRICARE: Family members of deceased service members, National Guard Soliders, Reservists, or Medal of Honor recipients may qualify for TRICARE. TRICARE is a comprehensive health insurance plan program from the Department of Defense. Your eligibility and plan options will depend on:
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA): A surviving spouse or child of a Veteran with disabilities or a service member who died in the line of duty may qualify for health insurance through CHAMPVA. You can only get CHAMPVA if you do not qualify for TRICARE.
Contact the VA to learn whether you might qualify for these or other health care programs for survivors.
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.
Surviving spouses and children of Veterans might for VA education benefits. You might qualify if the Veteran died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability.
VA-backed home loan
The surviving spouse of a Veteran may qualify for a VA-backed home loan, if the Veteran:
Is missing in action, or
Died while in service or from a service-connected disability and you either:
In some situations, died while totally disabled. The disability may not need to be related to the death.
Back to top
What are my rights and responsibilities with survivors benefits?
You have a right to a survivors’ benefit if you meet the eligibility requirements.
If you disagree with a benefit decision, you have the right to appeal.
You are responsible for filling out the proper application for benefits and for filing any appeals within the deadline.
Back to top