Survivors Benefits

Dependent Pension Benefits

Death Pension

This is an income supplement program for the low-income surviving spouse and/or children of a veteran. To be eligible, the deceased veteran must have served during wartime, the surviving spouse and or children must have income and net worth within specified limits and the veteran's death must not have been related to military service.

DIC is paid to surviving spouses when the veteran dies as a result of one of the following conditions:

  • A service-connected disability or a condition directly related to a service-connected disability.
  • An injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty while on inactive duty training.
  • A disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty while on active duty or active duty for training.

Survivors are also eligible for DIC if the veteran was totally disabled from service-connected conditions at the time of death, even though their service-connected conditions might not have caused their deaths. In this example the survivor qualifies if the veteran was:

  • Continuously rated for a period of 10 years immediately preceding death.
  • Continuously rated totally disabled from the date of military discharge and for at least 5 years immediately preceding death.
  • A former Prisoner of war (POW) who died after Sept. 30, 1999, and who was continuously rated for at least 1 year immediately preceding death.



MEDICAL CARE FOR DEPENDENTS AND SURVIVORS, the VA Civilian Health and Medical Program, shares the cost of medical care for dependents and survivors of veterans. If not eligible for CHAMPUS (the medical program for civilian dependents provided by the Defense Department) or Medicare, Part CHAMPVA.
  1. The spouse or child of a veteran who has a permanent and total service-connected disability.
  2. The spouse or child of a veteran who died of a service-connected condition or was totally disabled from a service-connected condition at the time of death.
  3. The spouse or child of a person who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct, within 30 days of entry into active service.
Beneficiaries age 65 or older who lose eligibility for CHAMPVA by becoming potentially eligible for Medicare, Part A, benefits on the basis of a disability may reestablish CHAMPVA eligibility by submitting documentation from the Social Security Administration certifying they are not entitled to or have exhausted Medicare, Part A, benefits. Persons under age 65 who are enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B may become eligible for CHAMPVA as a secondary payer to Medicare. Apply to the VA Health Administration Center, P.O. Box 65023, Denver, CO. 802006 or call 1-800-733-8387.

Survivors and Dependents Education Assistance (DEA) Chapter 35

Education & Training

Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty):The Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty) provides a program of education benefits to individuals who enter active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985, and receive an honorable discharge. Active duty includes full-time National Guard duty performed after Nov. 29, 1989. Members of the Army and Air Force National Guard who enlisted between June 9, 1985, and Nov. 29, 1989, had to decide before July 9, 1997, to participate in the Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty). To receive the maximum benefit, the participant must serve for three years. An individual also may qualify for the full benefit by initially serving two continuous years on active duty, followed by four years of Selected Reserve service, beginning within one year of release from active duty.


To participate in the Montgomery GI Bill, service members have their military pay reduced by $100 a month for the first 12 months of active duty. This money is not refundable. The participant must have a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate before the first period of active duty ends. Completing 12 credit hours toward a college degree also meets this requirement. Individuals who initially serve a continuous period of at least three years of active duty, even though they were initially obligated to serve less, will be paid the maximum benefit.  Benefits under this program will end 15 years from the date of the veteran’s last discharge or release from active duty, but some extenuating circumstances qualify for extensions. A veteran with a discharge upgraded by the military will have 10 years from the date of the upgrade.

Dependents Education Assistance Program

Burial Benefits

Burial in National Cemeteries - VA Cemeteries:Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, a headstone or marker, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria or gravesites for cremated remains. Veterans, service members and dependents are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery. An eligible veteran must have been discharge or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible. A 1997 law bars any veteran convicted of a federal or state capital crime from being buried or memorialized in one of the VA national cemeteries or in Arlington National Cemetery. Headstones or Markers for Memorial Plots To memorialize an eligible veteran whose remains are not available for burial, VA will provide a memorial headstone or marker. The headstone or marker is the same as that used to identify a grave except that the mandatory phrase "In Memory of " precedes the inscription. The headstone or marker is available to memorialize eligible veterans or decreased service members whose remains were not recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science, or cremated and scattered. The memorial marker may be provided for placement in a cemetery other than a national cemetery. In such a case, VA supplies the marker and pays the cost of shipping, but does not pay for the plot or the placement of the marker. Only a relative recognized as the next of kin may apply for headstones and markers.

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