Survivor Pension

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.

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