We had a comment on one of our videos a couple weeks ago asking about survivor benefits for spouses and dependents of Veterans. They wanted to know specifically what VA survivor benefits are available to them, and how they would they ensure that they continued to receive the VA benefits after their Veteran had passed. Although VA survivor benefits can be quite technical, we’ll try to clarify it for you.
There are a variety of VA survivor benefits that are available to a deceased Veteran’s surviving family members — whether it be a dependent or surviving spouse. The important thing to remember is that the “benefit” always belongs to the Veteran. You can only receive benefits if someone has qualified as a Veteran, which we covered in this blog.
VA Survivor Benefits for Disabled Veterans
Let’s discuss a few examples here to make sense of it all. If a Veteran was receiving Disability Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and passed, then the surviving spouse or dependent may be eligible to receive that DIC benefit in the month that the Veteran passed. That can be a big blessing to have that additional financial support to help someone through such a tragic event.
If a Veteran passes from a service-connected injury, the spouse or dependent of that Veteran is eligible to receive a maximum of $2,000 in VA survivor benefits to cover or defray the cost of funeral or burial expenses. If the injury is not service-connected, that amount is greatly reduced to around $300. That may not sound like much, but that can be a huge help for some people.
Other VA Survivor Benefits
There are also VA survivor benefits that include education benefits to help pay for college, VA home loans to assist with the purchase of a house, and VA healthcare assistance. All of these may be available to surviving spouses or dependents. The qualifications for these benefits can be tough to understand, so be sure to contact us if you have specific questions about any of these benefits.
Other significant VA survivor benefits include lump sums and accrued benefits. These are based on claims that were filed by the Veteran while he or she was still alive. For example, if a Veteran had an outstanding claim for DIC or VA Pension, the surviving spouse or dependent may be entitled to that. Just know that you have to be careful with these lump sum benefits because there are lots of rules with respect to how you request those benefits. But it is likely that those benefits are available if there’s an outstanding Veteran claim.
In addition to the lump sum benefits mentioned above, there’s also VA DIC and VA Aid & Attendance. If your Veteran was receiving DIC prior to their death, then you may be entitled to a portion of those disability benefits. And then there’s the death pension or VA Aid & Attendance, which has several qualifications. The Veteran must have served during a qualifying wartime period, must have received an honorable or medical discharge, must pass an income and asset test, and must require assistance with the activities of daily living.
Agent Orange Exposure
There’s also a special survivors pension that’s available to spouses and children in the case of certain service-connected death benefits. Most people don’t realize that there are benefits available to Veterans who were exposed to agent orange and other herbicides during their service. There are quite a few service members who were exposed to agent orange in Vietnam and Thailand during WWII. As is the case with most of these VA survivor benefits, there are special rules with regard to survivors of Veterans who died of herbicide-related diseases. If that is your situation, feel free to contact us and we’ll be glad to discuss the rules and regulations with you.
As you can see, the rules with regards to VA survivor benefits are very complex and like a maze. There are lots of rules and plenty exceptions to those rules. But we’re here to help you and your family work through all the red tape. This summary was more of a broad brush stroke, but hopefully it helps you better understand what benefits may be available to you or your family members.
Contact Us So We Can Help
If you have any additional questions about VA benefits qualification for yourself or a loved one, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (229) 226-8183, email us at [email protected]. You can also COMPLETE THIS FORM and we’ll contact you to schedule an appointment. If you’d like to see this blog in video format, you can watch it below. Please be sure to SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel and click the bell notification button so that you’re notified each time we publish a new video.