Dependency Indemnity Compensation for Survivors of Veterans

Dependency Indemnity Compensation (US Code Title 38 Chapter 13) is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of certain veterans. A survivor eligible for DIC may also be qualified for the Aid and Attendance or Housebound supplement. These supplements are paid in addition to the base payment, and provide a small additional income for persons who either need daily assistance with everyday living tasks or are substantially confined to their home. The survivor may receive either Aid and Attendance or Housebound, not both.

Compensation Rates for Dependency Indemnity Compensation

VA Dependency Indemnity CompensationThe total monthly compensation (click here for current rate tables) will depend upon a variety of factors, including the number of dependents and any Aid and Attendance or Housebound supplements. For example, a surviving spouse of a veteran who was rated as 100 percent disabled for at least 10 years, was married to the veteran for at least 8 years, has not remarried, and has 2 dependent children would have received $2049 per month in 2008. DIC payments are not affected by any other income, with the exception of Survivor's Benefit Plan income from the veteran's military retirement program. SBP is reduced dollar for dollar for payments received from DIC (US Code Title 10 § 1450(c)).

Veteran Service Requirements

A survivor of a military service member can be eligible for DIC if

  • the member died while on active duty, OR
  • the member was a veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease, OR
  • the member was a veteran whose death resulted from a non service-related injury or disease, and who was receiving, or was entitled to receive, VA Compensation for service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling
    • for at least 10 years immediately before death, OR
    • since the veteran’s release from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death, OR
    • for at least one year before death if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999.

Spousal Eligibility

The surviving spouse is eligible for Dependency Indemnity Compensation if he or she:

  • validly married the veteran before January 1, 1957, OR
  • was married to a service member who died on active duty, OR
  • married the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the veteran’s death began or was aggravated, OR
  • was married to the veteran for at least one year, OR
  • had a child with the veteran, AND
    • cohabited with the veteran continuously until the veteran’s death or, if separated, was not at fault for the separation, AND
    • is not currently remarried.*

A surviving spouse who remarries on or after December 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, is entitled to continue to receive Dependency Indemnity Compensation. A surviving spouse who terminates a second marriage can reapply for DIC.

Child Eligibility

A child can receive Dependency Indemnity Compensation in his/her own right under the following circumstances:

  • The child is not included on the surviving spouse’s DIC AND
  • is unmarried AND
  • under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school.

Note: Certain helpless adult children are entitled to DIC.

How to Apply

The NVF strongly recommends that you seek out the assistance of a Veteran Service Officer when filing a DIC claim. The VSO will assist you in filling out the paperwork, gathering the required documentation, and tracking the status of the claim at no cost. Most Veterans Organizations, like the VFW, American Legion, Order of the Purple Heart, etc. have VSOs. The veterans affairs departments for each state also have Veteran Service Officers. If you would like some assistance in finding a VSO near you, please call us at 888 777-4443.

You can apply by filling out VA Form 21-534, Application for Dependency Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by Surviving Spouse or Child. If you have any of the following material, please attach it to your application:

  • Discharge or separation papers for the veteran (DD214 or equivalent; click here to apply for a replacement DD214)
  • Dependency records (marriage & children's birth certificates)
  • Medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports)

Mail the Dependency Indemnity Compensation application to the VA Regional Office responsible for the area in which you live. You can find the correct Regional Office here.

You can also use the VA's online application for Dependency Indemnity Compensation. The VA's benefits hotline number is 1-800-827-1000.