Survivor Pension

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

For current Survivor Pension benefits rates, visit

To apply for Survivor Pension benefits, complete VA Form 21-534EZ, “Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits”, available at

  • Summer McJunkin
    Posted at 07:22h, 20 June Reply

    I would like to request that the VA send me the proof letter of my father’s pension benefits and I would like to request that I be sent his flag as well. I am the youngest surviving daughter and I was in school at the age 19-23 I became pregnant with my son at age 25 and I have been diagnosed manic bi- polar, PTSD from the age 22 and I have been trying to get the right information in regards to my father’s flag, or who did get it, I was left out of the funeral and the fact that he was deceased until it was too late for me to be there for him.

  • Jan
    Posted at 21:50h, 05 January Reply

    I need a copy of my VA Widow award letter. I would also like the letter saying I would not get my husband’s retirement even though he filled out the paper work. They did pay the higher life insurance that was signed at the same time. I am his first and only wife. He gave up his life to serve. He had ALS and died before it came through. I have to get food stamps, LEAP and look to other places to help with my bills. I am disabled now because I was his sole care giver (certified through VA) and I hurt my back (the worse) and I can not walk without a cane. He served over 22 years and died 6 years after retirement.

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