VA Benefits for Surviving Spouses
If you are the spouse of a deceased veteran, you may be eligible for several Veterans Administration benefits, including health care, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Survivor’s Pension, Aid and Attendance long-term care benefit, home loans and burial.
Health Care For Spouses
The surviving spouse of a veteran may be eligible for various health care benefits through TRICARE or the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).
TRICARE is the military’s health care program. It is managed by the Defense Health Agency. The program is for current and retired Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Pubic Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration personnel and their families. To qualify for TRICARE, the service member an/or family member must be enrolled in the Denfense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), an automated information system with current data on all military personnel and dependents who are eliglible for military benefits. Members of the National Guard and Reserves may also qualify for TRICARE. Types of benefit include health plans, dental plans, vision plans, prescription medicines and special needs programs. Read more about TRICARE.
CHAMPVA is a special Veterans Administration health care program for surviving spouses and children of veterans with disabilities or service members who died in the line of duty. The VA shares the cost of CHAMVA health care services and supplies with individuals who are eligiblle for the program. Types of services covered by CHAMPVA include You can download the CHAMPVA services guide here.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for Spouses
The Veterans Administration provides tax-free financial benefits to the surviving spouse, child or parent of a service member who died while on active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty training, or died from a service-related illness or injury. This benefit is called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
Surviving spouses may also be eligible for this benefit if the veteran didn’t die from a service-connected illness or injury but was eligible to receive VA compensation for a service-connected disability rated as totally disabled for a certain period of time.
This is a congressionally mandated benefit with annual cost-of-living increases.
Surviving Spouse DIC eligibility requirements include having been:
- Married the veteran or service member before January 1, 1957, or
- The surviving spouse was married the veteran or service member within 15 years of their discharge from the period of military service during which the illness or injury started or got worse, or
- The surviving spouse was married to the Veteran or service member for at least 1 year, or
- Or, the surviving spouse had a child with the veteran or service member, isn’t currently remarried, and either lived with the Veteran or service member without a break until their death or, if separated, weren’t at fault for the separation.
The 2020 monthly tax-free payment amount is $1,340.14.
The VA also provides additional financial benefits for special circumstances such as:
- The veteran had a total disability rating from the VA for at least 8 full years before their death and the spouse was married to the veteran for those same 8 years ($284.57)
- The spouse has a disability and needs help with daily living activities like bathing, dressing and mobility ($332.00)
- The spouse can’t leave the house due to a disability ($155.53)
- The spouse has 1 or more children under the age of 18 ($286.00 for the first 2 years after the veteran’s death; $332.00 for each eligible child)
Note: the monthly benefit amount and additional benefits for special circumstances are calculated differently If the veteran died before January 1, 1993.
Un-remarried, low-income spouses of a deceased veteran may be eligible for a Survivors Pension. The benefit pays up to $9,224 per year (approximately $768 per month) for a spouse without a dependent child.
To qualify for this benefit, the veteran must have:
- Entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980 and served 90 days of active duty with at least 1 day during an eligible wartime period (set by Congress), 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 at least 1 day during an eligible wartime period, or
- Was an officer and started on active duty after October 15, 1981 and hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months.
- Received an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge.
The spouse must have been married to the veteran for at least a year prior to their passing and meet various VA income and asset requirements.
If the spouse is eligible for both DIC and a Survivors Pension, the VA will pay the higher of the two benefit amounts.
Aid and Attendance
Aid and Attendance is a special VA benefit for veterans and spouses who need long-term care. It is a reimbursement for care that helps cover the cost of home care, adult day care, board and care, assisted living or a skilled nursing facility.
Veteran requirements include having served 90 days of active duty with at least 1 day during a wartime period and receiving anything other than a dishonorable discharge.
To qualify for the benefit, the spouse must have:
- been married to the veteran at the time of his or her passing and not remarried
- Need help with daily living activities like bathing, dressing and mobility
- Meet the VA’s income and asset requirements
Aid and Attendance for spouses pays up to $1,228 per month ($14,742 per year) tax-free. For spouses already receiving DIC, the amount is $332.00 per month.
To find out more about the Aid and Attendance benefit, call one of our Benefit Consultants today at 877-427-8065.
Surviving spouses may qualify for burial in a VA national cemetery if they were married to a veteran who was also eligible for burial benefits. Requirements include the veteran having died during their service period or served two years of active duty and received an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge. The benefit is a free plot in any United States VA cemetery, and a grave marker or tombstone. Spouses can be buried separately or with the veteran. Funeral expenses are not covered by the benefit. The VA asks spouses to apply in advance to find out if they are eligible for this benefit.
Some surviving spouses may be eligible for home loan benefits such as:
- Purchase Loan – helps you buy a home at a competitive interest rate with no down payment.
- Cash Out Refinance Loan – allows spouses to take cash out of their home for repairs, improvements and modifications, as well as paying of debts and funding education.
You can also use VA home loan benefits to build a home and refinance an existing VA-guaranteed or direct loan for the purpose of a lower interest rate. Read more about home loans for spouses.