Veterans and Survivor Benefits

The Veterans’ Benefits Administration (VBA) provides an integrated program of veterans’ benefits. These include compensation for service-connected disabilities, pensions for war-time veterans with non-service connected disabilities who meet income criteria, benefits for burial, home loans, survivor pension benefits and life insurance.

As the spouse or dependent child of a Veteran or service member, you may qualify for certain benefits, like health care, life insurance, or money to help pay for school or training.  A VA Survivors Pension offers monthly payments to qualified surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of wartime Veterans who meet certain income and net worth limits.  Additionally, if you’re caring for a veteran, you may also be eligible for support to help you better care for the Veteran—and for yourself.

Am I eligible for a VA Survivors Pension as a surviving spouse?

You may be eligible for this benefit if you haven’t remarried after the veteran’s death, and if the deceased veteran didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge and their service meets at least one of the requirements listed below.

At least one of these must be true. The Veteran:
  • Entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980, and served at least 90 days on active military service, with at least 1 day during a covered wartime period, or
  • Entered active duty after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least 1 day during a covered wartime period or
  • Was an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, and hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months
And this must be true for you:

Your yearly family income and net worth meet certain limits set by Congress. Your net worth equals the value of everything you own (except your house, your car, and most home furnishings), minus any debt you owe.  The net worth limit to qualify for a Survivors Pension as of December 1, 2019, is $129,094.

What Wartime Periods Are Recognize for Pension Benefits?

Under current law, the VA recognize these wartime periods to decide eligibility for pension benefits:

  • Mexican Border period (May 9, 1916, to April 5, 1917, for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or in adjacent waters)
  • World War I (April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918)
  • World War II (December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946)
  • Korean conflict (June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam War era (February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside of the Republic of Vietnam.)
  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990, through a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation)

Support and Services for Caregivers of Veterans

The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. The program offers support and services for family caregivers of eligible Veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty during certain time periods and meet other eligibility requirements. Learn more about eligibility for this program and how to apply at  va.gov/family-member-benefits/comprehensive-assistance-for-family-caregivers/

The Program of General Caregiver Support Services. For this program, the Veteran doesn’t need to have a service-connected condition, for which the caregiver is needed, and may have served during any era.  A formal application for this program is not required. Find out how to get resources, education, and support available to caregivers of eligible Veterans from all eras, visit caregiver.va.gov/Care_Caregivers.asp

How do I apply for a VA Survivors Pension?

By mail

Fill out an Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits (VA Form 21-534EZ).
Download VA Form 21-534EZ (PDF) at vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21P-534EZ-ARE.pdf

Mail it to the pension management center (PMC) for your state.
Find your PMC, visit va.gov/pension/pension-management-centers/

In person

Bring your application to a VA regional office near you. Find a VA regional office near you,  visit  va.gov/find-locations/?facilityType=benefits

Trained Professional Assistance

You can work with a trained professional called an accredited representative to get help applying for VA survivors pension benefits.  Get help filing your claim, visit  va.gov/disability/get-help-filing-claim/

Additional Resources

US Department of Veterans Affairs – VA Pension. Visit  va.gov/pension/

The Veterans’ Benefits Administration (VBA). Visit benefits.va.gov/benefits

Print Friendly, PDF & Email