The surviving spouse of a veteran can potentially be eligible for veterans benefits. It depends, but probably. Certain people who are spouses of military personnel with wartime service may be eligible for a survivor’s pension. Many of these benefits are tax-free.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
This pension is a monthly benefit paid to survivors of certain deceased veterans. There are certain requirements that must be met.
Veteran Requirements – For the veteran to be considered eligible, the veteran must have died:
- On active duty
- While training
- Due to service-connected disabilities
- Died from non-service-related causes, not as a result of willful misconduct, and were receiving, or eligible to receive, disability compensation from the VA for service-connected disabilities. The veteran also must have been: 1) Completely disabled for 10 years prior to death, 2) Discharged 5 years prior to death, 3) 1 year after being a prisoner of war after September 30, 1999.
Recipient Requirements – For spouses to be eligible, they must have:
- Been married to the veteran for at least one year before the death, or
- Had a child with the veteran,
- Or, if the couple has been married within 15 years of the discharge, and the veteran left the military due to a service-connected disability, cohabited with the veteran for the duration of the marriage unless the couple went through period of separation that was not the fault of the surviving spouse; and
- Not remarried before reaching the age of 57.
The current amount available under Dependence and Indemnity Compensation pension is $1,195 if the veteran died on or after January 1, 1993. There are certain additional increases available.
Veteran’s Death Pension
Below are the requirements that must be met to be eligible for this pension.
- Length of Service – The veteran must have served a minimum amount of time, and for a specific period of time. If the military veteran served before September 7, 1980, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service, with at least one day during wartime. If the service member joined after September 7, 1980, that individual must have served at least 24 months or the full term ordered of active duty, with at least one day during wartime.
- Not Dishonorably Discharge – The service member must have not been dishonorably discharged.
- Income – There are certain income restrictions that apply. These limitations are set by Congress, and they discount an individual’s countable income from the set income limit. For instance, if the maximum income rate is $12,000, and the survivor earned $10,000, they will be eligible for $2,000 under the survivor’s pension. The maximum income rate varies from year to year.
Who Else May Be Eligible for Survivor Benefits?
In addition, parents and children may be eligible for survivor benefits. Similar restrictions and requirements must be met.
Should I Seek Legal Advice?
As you can see, applying for these benefits may not be that simple. Navigating the Department of Veteran’s Affairs can be long, complicated, and incredibly difficult. By hiring a government lawyer, you can avoid unnecessary delays and be ensure you receive the compensation your spouse fought for and earned for you.