Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or “DIC”, is available to eligible survivors and dependents of veterans who had service-connected disabilities or diseases. The amount of DIC compensation is not based on income and is paid as a tax-free monthly benefit.
To be considered a qualifying veteran for DIC purposes, the deceased veteran must meet either of the following criteria:
- Died from a service-related injury or disease
- Died from a non-service-related injury or diseased but was eligible for or receiving VA compensation for a totally disabling service-connected disability:
- For at least 10 years prior to death, or
- For at least 1 year if the veteran was a former POW who died after 9/30/1999, or
- For at least 5 years and immediately following discharge from active duty
To be eligible for DIC, a surviving spouse must meet any of the following criteria:
- married to the veteran before 1/1/1957
- married the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of service during which the service-connected disability or disease occurred or was made worse
- married to the veteran for at least a year OR had a child with the veteran AND lived with them until their death
In all cases, the spouse must not be remarried, unless they are over the age of 57 and were remarried on or after 12/16/2003.
To be eligible for DIC, a surviving child must meet all of the following criteria:
- under the age of 18, or under the age of 23 if attending school
- not factored into a surviving spouse/parent’s DIC
Children who cannot live independently due to a disability may also be eligible for DIC benefits.
There are several factors that will increase a surviving spouse’s DIC benefits amount, including:
- if the veteran had been receiving disability compensation for a totally disabling service-connected disability or disease for at least 8 continuous years during which the surviving spouse was married to them
- Any dependent children under the age of 18
- If the surviving spouse is entitled to aid and attendance (A&A)
- If the surviving spouse is entitled to housebound financial assistance
Limitations on DIC Compensation
If a survivor receives any compensation that the veteran was receiving or entitled to after the date of the veteran’s death, they will be required to pay that money back if they spend it.
If a survivor is eligible for payments under the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), those payments will be reduced by the amount of DIC benefits received.
Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Parents of veterans who died as the result of a service-related injury or disease may be eligible to receive a tax-free monthly benefit if their income falls below a certain level.
- “Parents” for DIC purposes include biological, adoptive, and foster parents.
- If eligible parents are married, they must report their spouse’s income as well, even if their spouse is not also a parent of the deceased veteran.
Benefits Rates and Applying for DIC Benefits
To apply for DIC benefits, complete VA Form 21-534EZ, “Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits”, available at http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-534EZ-ARE.pdf.
The current benefits rates for DIC are available at http://benefits.va.gov/Compensation/current_rates_dic.asp.
To apply for Parents’ DIC benefits, complete VA Form 21-535, “Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation by Parent(s) (Including Accrued Benefits and Death Compensation when Applicable)”, available at http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-535-ARE.pdf.
The current benefits rates for Parents’ DIC are available at http://benefits.va.gov/Pension/current_rates_Parents_DIC_pen.asp