Have you lost your veteran spouse, parent, or child?
Did he or she die of a service connected condition?
Dependents Indemnity Compensation may be available to surviving family members.
Do you have questions about your eligibility for DIC? Are you unsure of the veterans ratings or status with the VA?
If there is any question of eligibility, we recommend that the family member proceed to apply without spending a lot of time questioning eligibility.
Click the link below for the downloadable application form. You may fill it out on your computer or print it to complete.
Use certified mail, return receipt requested to mail it to your VA Regional Office.
VA Form 21-535 – Application for DIC, Death Pension & Accrued Benefits by Surviving Spouse or Child.
Reminder: We urge you to proceed directly to filing for the benefit. It isn’t difficult to do and this will get the process started. Calling around to ask others about your eligibility will usually raise more questions and reap few answers.
The best way to get an answer about eligibility is to apply.
§3.20 Surviving spouse’s benefit for month of veteran’s death.
(a) Where the veteran died on or after December 1, 1962, and before October 1, 1982, the rate of death pension or dependency and indemnity compensation otherwise payable for the surviving spouse for the month in which the death occurred shall be not less than the amount of pension or compensation which would have been payable to or for the veteran for that month but for his or her death. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 5310)
(b) Where the veteran dies on or after October 1, 1982, the surviving spouse may be paid death pension or dependency and indemnity compensation for the month in which the veteran died at a rate equal to the amount of compensation or pension which would have been payable to the veteran for that month had death not occurred, but only if such rate is equal to or greater than the monthly rate of death pension or dependency and indemnity compensation to which the surviving spouse is entitled. Otherwise, no payment of death pension or dependency and indemnity compensation may be made for the month in which the veteran died. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 5111(c))
(c) (1) Where a veteran receiving compensation or pension dies after December 31, 1996, the surviving spouse, if not entitled to death compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation, or death pension for the month of death, shall be entitled to a benefit for that month in an amount equal to the amount of compensation or pension the veteran would have received for that month but for his or her death.
(2) A payment issued to a deceased veteran as compensation or pension for the month in which death occurred shall be treated as payable to that veteran’s surviving spouse, if the surviving spouse is not entitled to death compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation or death pension for that month and, if negotiated or deposited, shall be considered to be the benefit to which the surviving spouse is entitled under paragraph (c)(1) of this section. However, if such payment is in an amount less than the amount of the benefit under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the unpaid difference shall be treated in the same manner as an accrued benefit under §3.1000 of this part. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 5310(b))
§3.22 DIC benefits for survivors of certain veterans rated totally disabled at time of death.
(a) Even though a veteran died of non-service-connected causes, VA will pay death benefits to the surviving spouse or children in the same manner as if the veteran’s death were service-connected, if:
(1) The veteran’s death was not the result of his or her own willful misconduct, and (2) At the time of death, the veteran was receiving, or was entitled to receive, compensation for service-connected disability that was:
(i) Rated by VA as totally disabling for a continuous period of at least 10 years immediately preceding death;
(ii) Rated by VA as totally disabling continuously since the veteran’s release from active duty and for at least 5 years immediately preceding death; or
(iii) Rated by VA as totally disabling for a continuous period of not less than one year immediately preceding death, if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1318(b))
(b) For purposes of this section, “entitled to receive” means that the veteran filed a claim for disability compensation during his or her lifetime and one of the following circumstances is satisfied:
(1) The veteran would have received total disability compensation at the time of death for a service-connected disability rated totally disabling for the period specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section but for clear and unmistakable error committed by VA in a decision on a claim filed during the veteran’s lifetime; or (2) Additional evidence submitted to VA before or after the veteran’s death, consisting solely of service department records that existed at the time of a prior VA decision but were not previously considered by VA, provides a basis for reopening a claim finally decided during the veteran’s lifetime and for awarding a total service-connected disability rating retroactively in accordance with §§3.156(c) and 3.400(q)(2) of this part for the relevant period specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section; or (3) At the time of death, the veteran had a service-connected disability that was continuously rated totally disabling by VA for the period specified in paragraph (a)(2), but was not receiving compensation because:
(i) VA was paying the compensation to the veteran’s dependents;
(ii) VA was withholding the compensation under authority of 38 U.S.C. 5314 to offset an indebtedness of the veteran;
(iii) The veteran had not waived retired or retirement pay in order to receive compensation;
(iv) VA was withholding payments under the provisions of 10 U.S.C. 1174(h)(2);
(v) VA was withholding payments because the veteran’s whereabouts were unknown, but the veteran was otherwise entitled to continued payments based on a total service-connected disability rating; or
(vi) VA was withholding payments under 38 U.S.C. 5308 but determines that benefits were payable under 38 U.S.C. 5309.
(c) For purposes of this section, “rated by VA as totally disabling” includes total disability ratings based on unemployability (§4.16 of this chapter).
(d) To be entitled to benefits under this section, a surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran— (1) For at least 1 year immediately preceding the date of the veteran’s death; or (2) For any period of time if a child was born of the marriage, or was born to them before the marriage. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1318)
(e) Effect of judgment or settlement. If a surviving spouse or child eligible for benefits under paragraph (a) of this section receives any money or property pursuant to a judicial proceeding based upon, or a settlement or compromise of, any cause of action or other right of recovery for damages for the death of the veteran, benefits payable under paragraph (a) of this section shall not be paid for any month following the month in which such money or property is received until the amount of benefits that would otherwise have been payable under paragraph (a) of this section equals the total of the amount of money received and the fair market value of the property received. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply, however, to any portion of such benefits payable for any period preceding the end of the month in which such money or property of value is received. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a))
(f) Social security and worker’s compensation. Benefits received under social security or worker’s compensation are not subject to recoupment under paragraph (e) of this section even though such benefits may have been awarded pursuant to a judicial proceeding.
(g) Beneficiary’s duty to report. Any person entitled to benefits under paragraph (a) of this section shall promptly report to the Department of Veterans Affairs the receipt of any money or property received pursuant to a judicial proceeding based upon, or a settlement or compromise of, any cause of action or other right of recovery for damages for the death of the veteran. The amount to be reported is the total of the amount of money received and the fair market value of property received. Expenses incident to recovery, such as attorney’s fees, may not be deducted from the amount to be reported.
Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a benefit for eligible survivors. It provides a basic monthly payment for an eligible surviving spouse. The monthly payment is increased for each dependent child, and also if the surviving spouse is housebound or in need of aid and attendance. Veterans Affairs (VA) also adds a transitional benefit to the surviving spouse’s monthly DIC if there are children under age 18. The amount is based on a family unit, not individual children.
Rates for this program can be found here.
General Program Requirements
To qualify, you must be the parent of a veteran who died from one of the following causes:
- A disease or injury incurred in or aggravated by active duty or active duty for training
- An injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty while on inactive duty for training
- A service-connected disability
This benefit is based on need. The amount paid depends on your income.
The term “parent” includes:
- A biological parent
- An adoptive parent
- A foster parent
A foster parent is a person who stood as a parent to the veteran. The foster parent relationship must have been in place for at least one year before the veteran last entered active duty.
There is no length-of-service requirement.
National Guard and Reserve members who were activated for Federal military service and later separated are considered to be veterans.
Commissioned Officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are considered to be active duty members and veterans, once discharged.
For more specific information, read the Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation factsheet.
To complete an application, use VA Form 21-535, “Application for Dependency and Indemnity by Parent(s).”