Dependency and Indemnity

Surviving spouses, dependent children, and parents who died in the line of duty or from a service-connected illness or injury may qualify for VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or DIC. The DIC program offers benefits and financial compensation to the survivors. Survivors can use their benefits to supplement their income and pay for living expenses. Veterans Guide explains the eligibility guidelines, current 2024 DIC rates, and how to apply for the program.

Key Takeaways
  • As of 2024, the base monthly rate for a veteran who died on or after January 1, 1993 is $1,612.75.
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) provides financial support to eligible survivors of service members who died due to a service-related injury or illness.
  • DIC benefits include monthly payments, educational assistance, healthcare benefits, and the exact amount varies based on factors such as the survivor’s relationship to the veteran and any additional dependents

What Is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation?

Dependency and indemnity compensation is a VA benefits program that offers tax-free monetary monthly compensation to surviving family members of deceased veterans. Spouses, dependent children, and parents are the recipients of DIC payments.

The DIC program has certain eligibility restrictions. Not every survivor qualifies. Survivors must complete an application for benefits and submit documentation to the VA for review. If approved, the survivor will receive a monthly benefit according to current rates and schedule.

How Much Is DIC Worth?

DIC compensation varies depending on survivor type, the veteran’s rank, and the extent of their disability, among other factors. Here are the 2024 VA DIC rates for spouses, children, and parents.

Base Rate for Surviving Spouses: Veteran Died on or After January 1, 1993

If you are the surviving spouse of a veteran, the base rate for monthly payments is $1,612.75.

Added Amounts for Spousal Benefits: Veteran Died on or After January 1, 1993

You may also be eligible for added amounts based on certain factors. The table below describes the additional amounts available.

Description Benefit Type Amount
The veteran was totally disabled for at least eight years until their death, and the spouse was married to them during that period. 8-year provision $342.46
The spouse is disabled and requires assistance with living activities. Spousal aid and attendance $399.54
The spouse is housebound. Housebound allowance $187.17
There is one or more children under the age of 18. Transitional benefit for the initial two years following the veteran's death and the DIC apportionment rate for each child $342.00 for first 2 years, $399.54 for each eligible child

Here’s an example: Assume you’re the spouse of a deceased veteran. You were married for ten years, and the veteran was disabled. You have a disability yourself that makes it impossible to perform your regular living activities. You cannot leave the house without assistance and have twin 15-year-old boys. Your DIC compensation is $3,341 monthly:

Base Rate: $1,612.75
8-Year Provision: + 342.46
Spousal Aid and Attendance: + 399.54
Housebound Allowance: + 187.17
Child 1: + 399.54
Child 2: + 399.54
Total: $3,341.00

Spousal Benefits: Veteran Died Before January 1, 1993

The VA calculates spousal benefits differently for spouses of veterans who died before January 1, 1993. Rather than providing a flat base benefit, the rate varies depending on the veteran’s final pay grade, as shown in this table:

Veteran's Pay Grade Amount
E-1, E-2, E-3, E-4, E-5, E-6 $1,612.75
E-7 $1,668.49
E-8 $1,761.43
E-9 Regular $1,837.07
E-9 Special capacity $1,983.09
W-1 $1,703.03
W-2 $1,770.71
W-3 $1,822.47
W-4 $1,928.66
O-1 $1,703.03
O-2 $1,761.43
O-3 $1,882.19
O-4 $1,995.01
O-5 $2,195.47
O-6 $2,475.55
O-7 $2,671.96
O-8 $2,934.81
O-9 $3,139.21
O-10 Regular $3,443.18
O-10 Special capacity $3,695.39

Survivors who receive DIC benefits under this schedule may qualify for additional compensation if they meet specific eligibility criteria. Here is a breakdown of available increased benefits and their qualifications:

Eligibility Description Additional Amount
Totally disabled veteran for at least eight years, married to a spouse for the entirety of those eight years, and a pay grade between E-1 and E-7 $342.46
Totally disabled veteran for at least eight years, married to a spouse for the entirety of those eight years, and a pay grade of E-8 or E-9 Increase the monthly benefit to $1,955.21
Totally disabled veteran for at least eight years, married to a spouse for the entirety of those eight years, and a pay grade between W-1 and W-4 Increase the monthly benefit to $1,955.21
Totally disabled veteran for at least eight years, married to a spouse for the entirety of those eight years, and a pay grade between O-1 and O-3 Increase the monthly benefit to $1,955.21
Monthly benefit per child under the age of 18 $399.54

Child Benefits When Spouse Is Also Eligible for DIC

Adult children may claim DIC benefits if they meet certain eligibility requirements, as follows:

Status Monthly Benefit
Between the ages of 18 and 23, enrolled in a qualifying education program $338.49
Disabled child unable to support themself if the disability occurred before reaching age 18 $680.94

Child Benefits When There Is No Surviving Spouse Eligible for DIC

Children may receive DIC benefits even if the veteran’s spouse or partner is ineligible for DIC compensation. The monthly payment rates are below:

Number of Children Number of Children Monthly Rate Per Child Total Monthly Benefit
1 $680.94 $680.94
2 $489.74 $979.58
3 $426.09 $1,278.27
4 $380.30 $1,521.18
5 $352.82 $1,764.09
6 $334.50 $2,007.00
7 $321.42 $2,249.91
8 $311.60 $2,492.82
9 $303.97 $2,735.73

DIC for Parents

The VA offers DIC benefits to parents with limited income. Generally, to receive DIC, a parent must earn less than $18,824 annually from wages, salary, investments, rental properties, and gifts. If a parent has dependents living in their home, the VA considers their earnings, too. Some retirement payments count as income sources, too.

DIC payments for parents range from $5 to $799 monthly, depending on the parent’s annual earnings, relationship status, and whether both parents are alive.

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How Do You Qualify for DIC?

Whether you are the surviving spouse, child, or parent of a deceased veteran, you must prove a connection between their death and their service. The evidence you submit must prove one of the following:

  • The veteran died from an illness or injury while on active duty or in the line of duty while in training.
  • The veteran died from a service-connected disease or injury while on inactive training.
  • The veteran died from a service-connected injury or illness.

Spouses and children may still qualify for DIC if the veteran’s death wasn’t service-connected, but the veteran was eligible for VA disability benefits based on a total disability rating. Parents are not eligible for benefits for deaths resulting from conditions not connected to service, though.

Examples of evidence that can establish a service connection with the veteran’s death include copies of military service records, doctor and hospital records, and medical and diagnostic tests.

In addition to proving the veteran’s death was service-connected, survivors must meet specific eligibility requirements based on their classification.

Spouse Eligibility for DIC

To qualify for DIC benefits as a spouse, you must have lived with the veteran until their death. You must not have been at fault if you separated at any time.

You must also demonstrate one of the following:

  • You were married within 15 years of when the military service first began.
  • You were married to the veteran for at least one year.
  • You shared a child.

If you remarried, you may still receive or continue to receive benefits if the remarriage occurred on or after December 16, 2003, and you were 57 or older. If you remarried on or after January 5, 2021, you must be at least 55 years old.

Child Eligibility for DIC

If you’re the child of a deceased veteran, you must be unmarried and under 18 to receive benefits. Students attending a qualified education program may be eligible for DIC if they’re under age 23. Children cannot receive DIC benefits if included in a surviving spouse’s compensation plan.

Parent Eligibility for DIC

Biological, adoptive, and foster parents may qualify for DIC if they meet the program’s income restrictions.

Can You Get VA Benefits and DIC at the Same Time?

Survivors of deceased veterans may qualify for other benefit programs. In some cases, you may combine your benefit options.

Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance

The Dependents’ Educational Assistance program, or DEA—sometimes referred to as Chapter 35—provides education benefits to help pay for school or job training. You can receive both DEA and DIC benefits if you’re a deceased veteran’s spouse. However, children over 18 can only receive DIC or DEA, not both.

Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs

The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, or CHAMPVA, provides health care benefits to spouses, widows, and children of veterans. Receiving DIC does not impact your CHAMPVA eligibility.

VA Survivors Pension

If you’re eligible for both DIC and a VA survivors pension, you can’t receive both. Instead, the VA will pay you whichever benefit provides the most money.

Can a Spouse Receive DIC and Social Security Benefits?

Yes. Social Security and DIC are separate programs. Spouses who receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security retirement benefits can still receive DIC.

Can Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Be Terminated?

Yes, the VA can terminate your DIC benefits if you become ineligible for the program. Spouses may lose access to benefits if they remarry and are younger than 55 or 57, depending on the date of their remarriage. Children automatically lose access to benefits once they turn 18—or 23 if they’re in a qualifying education program.

Parents may lose their DIC benefits if they no longer meet the income requirements.

How To Apply for or Appeal a DIC Claim

If you believe you meet the requirements for DIC benefits, you must complete the appropriate form and submit it through the AccessVA claims portal. You may also submit your form via mail to the Department of Veterans Affairs or at a VA regional office. The form required for each survivor classification is below:

Once the VA receives your application and supporting evidence, it will review your claim and decide on your benefits. If it denies your benefits, you may file an appeal.

The appeals process has three options: a supplemental claim, a higher-level review, or a board review. A supplemental claim is usually appropriate if you have new evidence to prove your case. Requesting a higher-level review moves your claim to a supervisory reviewer, who will examine your application and decide whether to approve your benefits.

Board-level reviews are rare and go before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. A Veterans Law Judge will review your case and issue a final decision.

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