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
- he or she served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of war time. However, the 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 un-remarried surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran, AND
- your countable income is below a yearly limit set by law:
|Current Income Limits|
|If you are a...||Your yearly income must be less than...|
|Surviving spouse with no dependent children||$8,830*|
|Surviving spouse with one dependent child||$11,557**|
|(Add $2,250 to the limit for EACH additional child)|
|Housebound surviving spouse with no dependents||$10,792|
|Housebound surviving spouse with one dependent||$13,514|
|Eligible dependent who needs aid and attendance with no dependents||$14,113|
|Eligible dependent who needs aid and attendance with one dependent||$16,837|
|Surviving spouse who needs aid and attendance with no dependents||$14,685|
|Surviving spouse who needs aid and attendance with one dependent||$17,347|
|Surviving child (no eligible parent)||$2,250|
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 MAPR or $442 ** To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed 5% of MAPR or $578
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 above). This difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly payments rounded down to the nearest dollar.
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).
For More Information or Assistance Call the VA Toll-Free at 800-827-1000.
Stay On Top Of Your Benefits
Military benefits are always changing -- keep up with everything from pay to health care by signing up for a free Military.com membership, which will send all the latest benefits straight to your inbox, as well as give you access to up-to-date pay charts and more.