Were you or a loved one married to a U.S. veteran? The spouse of a deceased veteran can get financial assistance and other types of help from the VA. Veterans benefits for spouses include:
- Survivors pension
- Aid and Attendance long-term care benefit
- TRICARE and CHAMPVA health care benefits
- Special compensation if the veteran died while on active duty (DIC)
- Home loans
- Burial benefits
The low-income spouse of a deceased veteran who never remarried may qualify for a monthly VA pension.
To qualify for this benefit, the spouse must have:
- Been married to the veteran for at least a year prior to his or her passing
- Never remarried
- Meet VA surviving spouse income criteria
- Meet VA surviving spouse asset requirements
The veteran must have:
- Entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980 and then served at least 90 days of active duty with at least 1 day during a wartime period, or
- Entered active duty after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or their full-service period (the amount of time they were called for 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 had not previously served on active duty for at least two years (24 months).
- Received anything other than a dishonorable discharge
A survivor’s pension for spouses without dependent children currently pays up to $9,224 per year (around $768 per month) with annual cost-of-living increases.
Surviving spouses can also qualify for a long-term care benefit called Aid and Attendance. This monthly monetary benefit is a reimbursement for care that pays up to $1,228 per month, tax-free.
Aid and Attendance is a reimbursement for care, including home care, adult day care, board and care, assisted living and skilled nursing facility care. Home care can be provided by a family member, friend, or professional caregiver. The person providing the care does not need to be licensed.
Spouse requirements include:
- Married to the veteran at least a year
- Married to the veteran at the time of his or her passing and never remarried
- Needs help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, and mobility
- Meets VA income and unreimbursed medical expense requirements
- Meets VA asset requirements
Veteran requirements include:
- At least 90 days of active duty with at least 1 day during a wartime period
- An honorable, or anything other than dishonorable discharge
When a spouse is eligible for both DIC and Aid and Attendance, the VA will pay the higher of the two benefit amounts.
Are you or a loved one a surviving spouse who needs long-term care? Contact one of our Benefit Consultants today at 877-427-8065 to find out more about this special VA program.
Health Care For Spouses
The surviving spouse of a veteran may be eligible for 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 spouse must be enrolled in DEERS, an automated information system with current data on all military personnel and dependents who are eliglible for military benefits. TRICARE health care benefits include health plans, dental plans, vision plans and perscription medicine.
CHAMPVA is a special Veterans Administration health care program for spouses and children of veterans who meet the following eligibility requirements:
- The veteran died from a service-connected disability
- The veteran is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability
- The veteran was permanently and totaly disabled due to a service-connected disability at the time of his or her death
- The veteran died in the line of duty
The VA helps pay for CHAMPVA health care services and supplies.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for Spouses
DIC is a VA tax-free benefit paid 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.
DIC eligibility requirements include:
- The surviving spouse was 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 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
- The spouse has a disability and needs help with daily living activities like bathing, dressing and mobility
- The spouse cannot leave the house due to a disability
- The spouse has 1 or more children under the age of 18
Note: the monthly benefit amount and additional benefits for special circumstances are calculated differently If the veteran died before January 1, 1993.
Home Loans for Spouses
Some surviving spouses may be eligible for home loans. Types of loans include:
- Purchase Loan – helps the spouse 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, paying debts and funding education
You can also use VA home loans to build a home and refinance an existing VA-guaranteed or direct loan for the purpose of a lower interest rate.
A surviving spouse may qualify for burial in a VA national cemetery if he or she was 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 receiving anything other than a 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 burial benefits. The VA asks spouses to apply in advance to find out if they are eligible for this benefit.