2020 Survivor's Pension Rates

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The VA Survivor's Pension (also known as the Death Pension) is a tax-free benefit paid to eligible dependents of deceased wartime veterans.

VA Survivor's Pension Eligibility

You may be eligible if:

  • the deceased veteran was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, AND
  • they served 24 months or more of active duty with at least 1 day during wartime.  AND
  • you are the un-remarried surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran, AND
  • your countable income is below a yearly limit set by law:

The Death Pension Payment Amount

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

Current Income Limits
If you are a... Your yearly income must be less than...
Surviving spouse with no dependent children $9,224*
Surviving spouse with one dependent child $12,072**
(Add $2,313 to the limit for EACH additional child)  
Housebound surviving spouse with no dependents $11,273
Housebound surviving spouse with one dependent $14,116
Eligible dependent who needs aid and attendance with no dependents $14,742
Eligible dependent who needs aid and attendance with one dependent $17,586
Surviving spouse who needs aid and attendance with no dependents $15,339
Surviving spouse who needs aid and attendance with one dependent $18,119
Surviving child (no eligible parent) $2,351

Note: Some income is not counted toward the yearly limit (for example, welfare benefits, or some wages earned by dependent children) * To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed 5% of the Maximum Annual Pension Amount ** To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed 5% of the Maximum Annual Pension Amount

The Death Pension 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).

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Survivor Benefits