The Survivor Pension, also called the Death Pension, is available to eligible survivors and dependents of certain veterans who served during wartime. The amount of the Survivor Pension is income-based and is paid as a tax-free monthly benefit.
To be considered a qualifying veteran for Survivor Pension purposes, the deceased veteran must meet the following criteria:
Discharged under other than dishonorable conditions
If the veteran served before 9/7/1980, the period of service must have been at least 90 days of active duty, including at least one day of wartime service
If the veteran began active duty after 9/7/1980, he or she must have served at least 24 months or the full period of active duty, including one day of wartime service
Applicable periods of wartime service for receiving a Survivor Pension are:
- Mexican Border Period (5/9/1916-4/5/1917)
- World War I (4/6/1917 – 11/11/1918)
- World War II (12/7/1941-12/31/1946)
- Korean conflict (6/27/1950 – 1/31/1955)
- Vietnam conflict – in-country (2/28/1961-5/7/1975)
- Vietnam conflict – all other service (8/5/1964-5/7/1975)
- Gulf War/Middle East conflicts (8/2/1990 – a future date to be determined by Congress or the President)
To be eligible for a Survivor Pension, a surviving spouse must be unmarried, and becomes ineligible upon remarriage.
To be eligible for a Survivor Pension, a surviving child must meet either of the following criteria:
- under the age of 18, or under the age of 23 if attending school
- cannot live independently due to a disability that occurred before the age of 18
There are several factors that will increase the Survivor Pension amount, including:
- Any unmarried dependent children under the age of 18, or under age 23 if attending school
- If the surviving spouse is entitled to aid and attendance (A&A)
- If the surviving spouse is entitled to housebound financial assistance
Benefits Rates and Applying for Survivor Pension Benefits
The benefits rates for a Survivor Pension are calculated based on:
- Countable income (wages, interest, disability or retirement payments)
- Net worth (cash, stocks, bonds, annuities, non-residential property)
- Unreimbursed medical expenses (can be deducted from countable income)
For more information on calculating Survivor Pension income limitations, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/spousepencalc.asp.
For current Survivor Pension benefits rates, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/current_rates_survivor_pen.asp.
To apply for Survivor Pension 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.