Veteran's Death Pension

The VA Death Pension is a benefit paid to eligible dependents of deceased wartime veterans. The following is a summary of the pension:

VA Death Pension Eligibility:

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, teh law 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. 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 :
2011 Income Limits (effective since Dec 1, 2008)
If you are a... Your yearly income must be less than...
Surviving spouse with no dependent children $7,933*
Surviving spouse with one dependent child $10,385**
(Add $2,020 to the limit for EACH additional child)  
Housebound surviving spouse with no dependents $9,696
Housebound surviving spouse with one dependent $12,144
Eligible dependent who needs aid and attendance with no dependents $12,681
Surviving spouse who needs aid and attendance with no dependents $13,195
Eligible dependent who needs aid and attendance with one dependent $15,128
Surviving spouse who needs aid and attendance with one dependent $15,587
Surviving child (no eligible parent) $2,020

Note: Some income is not counted toward the yearly limit (for example, welfare benefits, some wages earned by dependent children, and Supplemental Security Income)
* To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed 5% of MAPR or $397
** To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed 5% of MAPR or $520


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The VA Payment Amount:

VA pays you the difference between your countable income and the yearly income limit which describes your situation (see chart above). This difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly payments rounded down to the nearest dollar. Call the toll-free number below for details.

The Application Process:

You can apply by filling out VA Form 21-534, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Or Death Pension by Surviving Spouse or Child. If available, attach copies of dependency records (marriage & children's birth certificates).

For More Information or Assistance Call Toll-Free 1-800-827-1000.

Related Topics

Survivor Benefits
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