About Surviving Spouse Benefits

1. Death (Survivors) Pension with Aid and Attendance

What Is Death Pension with Aid and Attendance?

Death pension is a benefit paid to eligible dependents of deceased wartime veterans.

Who Is Eligible?

You may be eligible if:

*Note: Anyone who enlists after September 7, 1980, generally must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty.  Service from August 2, 1990 to present is considered to be a period of war (Gulf War) in addition to other periods of war such as World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. 

How Much Does VA Pay?

VA pays you the difference between your countable income and the yearly income limit which describes your situation (see chart above).  This difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly payments rounded down to the nearest dollar.

Note:  Certain expenses (i.e., medical expenses, education expenses, or expenses related to the last illness or burial of the veteran or a dependent) paid by you are taken into consideration when arriving at your countable income.

Death Pension -- Maximum Annual Pension Rates (MAPR) 2018-19

For a Surviving Spouse




Without Dependent Child




Medical Deduction




With One Dependent Child




Medical Deduction




Housebound Without Dependents




Housebound With One Dependent




Aid and Attendance Without Dependents




Aid and Attendance With One Dependent




Add for Each Additional Child








How Can You Apply?

You can apply by filling out VA Form 21P-534EZ, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by Surviving Spouse or Child.  If available, attach copies of dependency records (marriage & children's birth


2. Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

What Is DIC?

DIC is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of a military service member who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training,OR

Who Is Eligible?

NoteA surviving spouse who remarries on or after December 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, is entitled to continue to receive DIC.

The surviving child(ren), if he/she is:

NoteCertain helpless adult children are entitled to DIC.  Call the toll-free number below for the eligibility requirements.

The surviving parent(s) may be eligible for an income-based benefit.  See our fact sheet, Parents' DIC.

How Much Does VA Pay?

The basic monthly rate of DIC is $1,319 for an eligible surviving spouse.  The rate is increased for each dependent child, and also if the surviving spouse is housebound or in need of aid and attendance.  VA also adds a transitional benefit of $326 to the surviving spouse's monthly DIC if there are children under age 18.  The amount is based on a family unit, not individual children.  An allowance of $326 a month is also available if the person receiving DIC needs aid and attendance.

How Should a Claimant Apply?

Claimants should complete VA Form 21P-534EZ Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child.


3. Accrued Benefits

A claim for death pension by any class of dependent is ALWAYS also a claim for DIG, as well as for any available accrued benefits. Accrued benefits would include any claim (whether formal, informal, or inferred) that was pending and unresolved at the time of the veteran's death, or any recurring benefit that was due but not paid at the time of the veteran's death (such as when a claim was approved but the veteran died before the initial check was issued, or when the initial check was issued but the veteran died before negotiating it). If more than one class of dependents applies, the order of precedence for accrued benefits is (1) surviving spouse and (2) children (in equal shares). If accrued benefits are authorized, they may not be paid for any retroactive period exceeding two years prior to the month of the veteran's death.


4. Champ VA

CHAMPVA for Dependents of Totally Disabled Veterans

In addition to the special benefits for veterans, VA will also provide health care insurance coverage for the dependents or survivors of certain totally disabled (whether rated 100% or by reason of individual unemployability) veterans under the Civilian Health and Medical Program.

The program is called CHAMPVA. For eligibility under this program, the veteran-sponsor must be one of the following:

Eligible persons include the veteran's spouse or surviving spouse, minor children under age 18. children between the ages of 18 and 23 who are attending an approved school, and children over age 18 who have been determined to be permanently incapable of self-support ('helpless').

Dependents of retired or other military personnel who are eligible for health care coverage under TRICARE (formerly called CHAMPUS) are not eligible for coverage under CHAMPVA. With the implementation of the CHAMPVA for life program, begun October 2001, persons who turn age 65 do not lose eligibility to the CHAMPVA program as long as they continue to carry the Medicare Part B coverage. 

Claimant's who have insurance coverage other than Medicare Parts A & B, will have to complete the required form to inform CHAMPVA. A that time CHAMPVA will pay as a tertiary provider. CHAMPVA will cover most health care services and supplies that are considered medically or psychologically necessary. In general, a covered person under CHAMPVA may seek treatment from any licensed health care provider at any licensed medical facility, including from many VA medical facilities. CHAMPVA administration, including applications and claims, is centralized to the VA Health Administration Center, Denver, Colorado.

The CHAMPVA Meds By Mail Program allows eligible CHAMPVA members to obtain their prescriptions via a mail order pharmacy service at no cost to the beneficiary (co-payments are waived). To participate in Meds By Mail, have a physician write a new prescription for a 90-day supply plus refills (not to exceed one "1" year) Attach the original prescriptions to a completed Meds By Mail order fon-n and mail to the Cheyenne, Wyoming CHAMPVA processing center.

Factors that impact CHAMPVA eligibility for a spouse include:

Factors that impact CHAMPVA eligibility for a CHILD include:


5. Home Loan Guaranty

What Is a VA-Guaranteed Loan?

A VA-guaranteed loan can be used to:

A VA-guaranteed loan offers a number of safeguards and advantages over a non VA-guaranteed loan.  For example, the interest rate is competitive with conventional rates with little or no down payment required.  VA-guaranteed loans are made by private lenders, such as banks, savings and loan associations, and mortgage companies.  As with any loan, you must apply directly to the lender.  Your real estate broker can assist you in finding a lender.

When the loan is approved, VA will guarantee part of it.  The amount of VA's guaranty usually depends on the size of the loan.  This guaranty protects the lender against loss up to the amount guaranteed by VA.  The largest guaranty that VA can give is an amount equal to 25% of the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit for single-family residences.  These limits are subject to change each year.

Who Is Eligible?

Generally, the following persons are eligible:

Note: There are certain other groups of individuals who may be eligible. For information about these groups, contact VA at the toll-free number below.

What Documents Do I Need to Provide the Lender To Receive a VA-Guaranteed Loan?

The lender will need a Certificate of Eligibility to prove that you are eligible for a VA-guaranteed loan.  Certificates are issued by VA's Loan Eligibility Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to eligible persons who apply for the certificate. The Eligibility Center can be reached by calling toll-free below.  Often times, your lender may be able to access VA's secure web site and obtain a certificate for you.

How Can You Apply?

You can apply by requesting your lender to obtain a certificate for you through VA's secure web site OR by completing one of the following forms and submitting it to the Loan Eligibility Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.