Posted by Elliot Kravitz, ATP

Death Benefits Available to Surviving Veteran Family Members

Death Benefits Available to Surviving Veteran Family Members


There are two distinct programs that pay Veteran Survivors some form of benefits as long as their death is connected to service. These benefits are dependence and indemnity compensation (DIC) and death compensation.

Such benefits can come in the form of tax-free monetary payment for qualifying survivors, home loans, educational assistance, and vocational training.

Filing a Claim for DIC Benefits:

There is no specific time to file a DIC claim. However, sending in the DIC claim within a year of the Veteran's death will make the benefits come on the first day of the month after the death.

Who Qualifies for VA Death Pension Benefits?

Surviving Spouse of a Veteran

For a surviving spouse to qualify, the marriage to the Veteran must be valid with proofs. There must be proof that you are the legal spouse of the Veteran at the time of death. There are other requirements that the said spouse must satisfy such as:

  • Being married for one year or more 

  • Must have lived together during the marriage

  • Remain single after the death

The one-year marriage clause does not stand if the marriage was before or during the veteran service year.

Children of Veterans

For children of veterans, you might qualify for death benefits if:

  • You are not part of the surviving spouse DIC

  • You are single

  • You meet certain age requirement 

  • You are still in college

For you to qualify as well, you will have to provide some information about the veterans, their service, life, and death.

Veteran Parents

You could be eligible for DIC benefit for parents of a service member that died along the line of duty due to illness or service-related injury. For you to get the death benefits, these are the conditions:

  • You need to be the biological, foster or adoptive parent of the Veteran

  • Your income level should be below a certain level

  • Be able to prove that the death is connected to service.

Service Connection and Death Benefits: How Does It Relate?

For anyone to qualify for death benefits, the cause of death must be proved to be connected to service. There are instances where it can be easily proven that the death was related to service. Should death be in service, and a disease or armed conflict caused it, death will also be classified as service-oriented.

However, if the Veteran's death is not connected to service, it will be quite a severe case. One needs to go through the analysis for service connection to prove that the Veteran died of a service-connected disability. This also needs to be backed up by medical evidence.

Reasons for Denied Benefit Claim

At times, the VA could deny death benefit claims. The denial at times can seem arbitrary. At times, however, these are reasons the VA deny death benefits 

  1. No Service Connection: when it is determined that there is no link between the death and military service

  2. The surviving parent, child, or spouse did not meet the death benefit qualification. As evident from above, there are many things you must qualify for. Not providing relevant paperwork could lead to disqualification.

  3. Failure to prove marriage and to live with the Veteran for the required period. Bear in mind, however, that you might qualify for death benefit even if you did not live together for one year. If you, however, did not document your living together, the claim will be denied.

Can a Lawyer Help?

For you to win such claims, you need aggressive representation by a veteran benefit lawyer. You also need the service of a highly qualified medical expert. There are many times the leading cause of death might be misdiagnosed. There could also be the case of missing evidence.

For these reasons, you need expert analysis to review and help with your claim.



Elliot Kravitz, ATP
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