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Surviving Family Benefits

Folding the flag at a Marine funeral.

Next of kin members are offered several forms of compensation. These include Dependent Indemnity Compensation, a Death Gratuity payment, as well as TRICARE benefits.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

DIC is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of a:

  • Military service member who died while on active duty, OR
  • Veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease, OR
  • Veteran whose death resulted from a non service-related injury or disease, and who was receiving, or was entitled to receive, VA Compensation for service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling for at least 10 years immediately before death, OR
  • since the veteran's release from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death, OR
  • for at least one year before death if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999.

Click here to learn more about the DIC program

Death Gratuity

The death gratuity has been recently increased to $100,000, (100% tax free) and is paid to the next of kin for the following armed service members:

  • A member of an armed force under his jurisdiction who dies while on active duty or while performing authorized travel to or from active duty;
  • A Reserve of an armed force who dies while on inactive duty training (with exceptions);
  • Any Reserve of an armed force who assumed an obligation to perform active duty for training, or inactive duty training (with exceptions) and who dies while traveling directly to or from that active duty for training or inactive duty training;
  • Any member of a reserve officers' training corps who dies while performing annual training duty under orders for a period of more than 13 days, or while performing authorized travel to or from that annual training duty; or any applicant for membership in a reserve officers' training corps who dies while attending field training or a practice cruise or while performing authorized travel to or from the place where the training or cruise is conducted; or
  • A person who dies while traveling to or from or while at a place for final acceptance, or for entry upon active duty (other than for training), in an armed force, who has been ordered or directed to go to that place, and who
    • Has been provisionally accepted for that duty; or
    • Has been selected for service in that armed force.

Click here to learn more about the Death Gratuity Payment

Death Pension

Death Pension is a benefit paid to eligible dependents of deceased wartime veterans. You may be eligible if:

  • The deceased veteran was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, AND
  • He or she served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of war time.
  • However, 38 CFR 3.12a requires that anyone who enlists after 9/7/80 generally has to serve at least 24 months or the full period for which a person was called or ordered to active duty in order to receive any benefits based on that period of service. With the advent of the Gulf War on 8/2/90 (and still not ended by Congress to this day), veterans can now serve after 9/7/80 during a period of wartime. When they do, they generally now must serve 24 months to be eligible for pension or any other benefits. But note the exclusions in 38 CFR 3.12(d), AND
  • you are the surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran, AND
  • your countable income is below a yearly limit set by law.

Click here to learn more about the Veteran Death Pension.


Widows or widowers and unmarried children of deceased active duty or retired service members are eligible as family members of deceased member if sponsor was serving or was ordered to active duty for more than 30 days at time of death.

  • Claims will be cost-shared at the active duty family member rate for three years after death of active duty sponsor, and thereafter at the retiree rate.
  • Widows or widowers remain eligible until they remarry (loss of benefits remains applicable even if remarriage ends in death or divorce).
  • Children remain eligible until age 21, unless they meet the exceptions above.

Basic Allowance for Housing

The spouse and children (including children from a previous marriage) of a deceased service member living in government quarters are entitled to either remain in government housing for 365 days, or to relocate to private quarters and receive a one year of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) or Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) as appropriate. To receive this allowance for private quarters, the service member must have been eligible to receive those allowances for his or her dependents at the time of death.

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