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Survivors Benefits: Spouse, Dependent Children and Parents

When an eligible service member or veteran dies (after Dec. 31, 1956), from a service-connected or compensable disability, the VA owes Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or DIC to the eligible surviving spouse, children, and parents (38 U.S.C. § 1310). For deaths occurring on or after Dec. 16, 2003, successful claimants are entitled to the entire amount of benefits that would have been paid had the death not occurred. For deaths that occurred before that date, recovery is limited to two years’ worth (and not necessarily the last two years).

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
DIC is a tax-free benefit for the surviving spouse and dependent children.  A spouse’s Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP) annuity is reduced by any DIC amount received.  

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

VA also adds a transitional benefit of $250 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. It is paid for two years from the date that entitlement to DIC commences, but is discontinued earlier when there is no child under age 18 or no child on the surviving spouse’s DIC for any reason.

To apply for DIC:

Usually an application for DIC benefits is completed by the Casualty Assistance Officer and submitted on behalf of the survivor. VA Form 21-534a, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation by a Surviving Spouse or Child is used for this purpose. This form needs special processing and should be mailed or FAXED along with DD Form 1300, Report of Casualty, to:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Regional Office and Insurance Center
P.O. Box 8079
Philadelphia, PA 19101
FAX number: 215.381.3084

Parents’ DIC
Parents’ DIC is a monthly benefit amount for the decedent’s parents.  It is a “needs-based” benefit. Parents may be biological, step, adopted, or in loco parentis.

To apply for Parents DIC:
Download and complete a PDF version of VA Form 21-535 and mail to the VA regional office that serves the area where you reside.