Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

DIC is a tax-free monetary benefit generally payable to a surviving spouse, child, or parent of service members who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, or to survivors of Veterans who died from their service-connected disabilities. Parents DIC is an income-based benefit for parents who were financially dependent on of a service member or Veteran who died from a service-related cause.

What is VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (or “VA DIC”) program provides tax-free monetary benefits to surviving spouses, children, and parents of service members who died in the line of duty and Veterans who died from a military service-related illness or injury.

When can a surviving spouse get VA DIC benefits?

To be eligible for VA DIC benefits as a surviving spouse, one of the following must be true:

  • You married the service member or Veteran before January 1, 1957.
  • You married the service member or Veteran within 15 years after their discharge from the military service during which their illness or injury occurred or got worse.
  • You were married to the service member or Veteran for at least 1 year.
  • You had a child with the service member or Veteran, are not currently remarried, and either lived with the service member or Veteran without a break until their death or, if you were separated, were not at fault for the separation. Note: If you remarried on or after December 16, 2003, and you were 57 years of age or older at the time, you can still receive compensation.

To be eligible for VA DIC benefits as a surviving spouse, you must also provide evidence (documentation such as military service records, doctor’s reports, or medical test results) showing that one of the following is true:

  • The service member died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive-duty training.
  • The Veteran died from a service-related illness or injury.
  • The Veteran did not die from a service-related illness or injury, but was eligible to receive VA compensation for a service-related disability rated as totally disabling for a certain period of time. Note: “Totally disabling” means the Veteran’s service-related illness or injury made it impossible for them to work.

For VA DIC eligibility, the Veteran’s service-related disability must have been rated as totally disabling during one of the following periods:

  • For at least 10 years before their death.
  • Since their release from active duty and for at least 5 years immediately before their death.
  • For at least 1 year before their death if they were a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999.

When can a surviving child get VA DIC benefits?

To be eligible for VA DIC benefits as a surviving child, all of the following must be true:

  • You are not married.
  • You are not included on a surviving spouse’s compensation.
  • You are under the age of 18 (or under the age of 23 if you are attending school). Note: If you were adopted out of the service member’s or Veteran’s family, but meet all other eligibility requirements, you can still receive compensation.

To be eligible for VA DIC benefits as a surviving child, you must also provide evidence (documentation such as military service records, doctor’s reports, or medical test results) showing that one of the following is true:

  • The service member died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive-duty training.
  • The Veteran died from a service-related illness or injury.
  • The Veteran did not die from a service-related illness or injury, but was eligible to receive VA compensation for a service-related disability rated as totally disabling for a certain period of time. Note: “Totally disabling” means the Veteran’s service-related illness or injury made it impossible for them to work.

For VA DIC eligibility, the Veteran’s service-related disability must have been rated as totally disabling during one of the following periods:

  • For at least 10 years before their death.
  • Since their release from active duty and for at least 5 years immediately before their death.
  • For at least 1 year before their death if they were a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999.

When can a surviving parent get VA DIC benefits?

To be eligible for VA DIC benefits as a surviving parent, both of the following must be true:

  • You are the biological, adoptive, or foster parent of the service member or Veteran.
  • Your income is below a certain amount (See https://www.va.gov/disability/parent-dic-rates). Note: For VA DIC eligibility, a foster parent is defined as someone who served in the role of a parent to the service member or Veteran before their last entry into active service.

To be eligible for VA DIC benefits as a surviving parent, you must also provide evidence (documentation such as military service records, doctor’s reports, or medical test results) showing that one of the following is true:

  • The service member died from an illness or injury while on active duty or in the line of duty while on active duty for training.
  • The service member died from an injury or certain illnesses in the line of duty while on inactive training.
  • The Veteran died from a service-related illness or injury.

What amount of VA DIC benefits can a survivor receive?

If you are the survivor of a service member or Veteran, the exact amount of VA DIC benefits that you can receive will depend on your specific situation.

How can a survivor apply for VA DIC benefits?

If you are the surviving spouse or child of a service member who died while on active duty, your military casualty assistance officer will assist you in applying for VA DIC benefits by helping you complete and submit VA Form 21P-534a: https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21P-534a-ARE.pdf.

If you are the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran, you can apply for VA DIC benefits by completing and submitting VA Form 21P-534EZ: https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21P-534EZ-ARE.pdf.

If you are a surviving parent, you can apply for VA DIC benefits by completing and submitting VA Form 21P-535: https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21P-535-ARE.pdf.

For help with completing and submitting an application for VA DIC benefits, you can speak with a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) or contact or visit your local VA benefits office.

This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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