Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a financial benefit provided on a tax-free basis to the surviving spouse or dependent child or children of a deceased service member or veteran.

The VA DIC for veterans is specifically provided to those eligible surviving family members of a veteran who did not die while on active duty, but rather died as a result of an injury or illness acquired during active duty. There are very specific requirements for the survivors to be deemed eligible and to be provided with this financial compensation. Additionally, the application is in-depth and requires highly detailed information.

DIC benefits provide financial compensation to the spouse or child of the veteran or service member after a successful claim is made through the proper channels. That claim requires detailed information about the veteran, about the claimant, about the relationship and about the death of the veteran. To access those VA DIC benefits, the claimant must complete the appropriate application and submit the required proof before awaiting the final decision of the VA. Understanding the requirements and expectations can help you to correctly complete each step and avoid any unnecessary delays.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

For DIC veterans’ surviving spouses or children to access those funds, the service-related death must be proven. A VA DIC claim can only be made on behalf of a veteran whose death was linked to an injury or illness acquired while on active duty or on behalf of a veteran whose treatment by a VA hospital led to or contributed to the veteran’s death.

VA DIC benefits eligibility also extends to a veteran who died from a non-service-related injury or disease but who was entitled to receive VA compensation for a service-connected disability that are rated totally disabling under any of the following conditions:

  • For at least 10 years immediately before death
  • For at least 5 years after the veteran’s release from active duty preceding death
  • For at least 1 year before death, if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999

Related Article: How to Apply for VA Disability Compensation

If the veteran did not claim disability but you are claiming VA DIC, then you must provide evidence that shows all of the following:

  • That an injury or disease was incurred or was aggravated during active service or that an event that occurred while in service caused an injury or disease
  • That a physical or mental disability was either the principal or the contributory cause of death
  • That a relationship existed between the disability that is associated with the cause of death and an injury, disease and event that happened while in service

This can be proven via medical records or medical opinion or, sometimes, through lay evidence.

VA DIC Benefits Eligibility

VA DIC benefits eligibility is strictly enforced to ensure that only qualified family members receive the appropriate compensation. To qualify for DIC, a surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran for one of the following times:

  • Since before January 1, 1957
  • Within 15 years of the veteran’s discharge from military service period when the disease or injury that caused the veteran’s death began or was aggravated
  • For at least one year

It is also possible for an unmarried couple to meet the eligibility requirements for VA DIC. If the veteran and the surviving partner had a child together and lived together continuously until the veteran’s death, then the surviving partner and child may still be eligible for DIC. Alternatively, if the veteran and surviving spouse are separated and the surviving spouse was not at fault for the separation, and as long as said spouse is not currently remarried, then the surviving spouse may still be eligible.

For a surviving child to qualify for VA DIC, he or she must meet all of the following conditions:

  • The child cannot be included on the surviving spouse’s DIC.
  • The surviving child must be unmarried.
  • The beneficiary must be younger than 18 years old or between the ages of 18 and 23 while also attending school

DIC Benefits Application

The actual VA DIC benefits application requires detailed information on many different topics. Before you begin the application, gather the records and supporting documentation for all of the following details:

  1. The veteran’s information: You will need personal identifying details for the veteran, including a Social Security Number and service number.
  2. Your personal details: You must include your own identifying and contact details, as well as explain your relationship to the veteran.
  3. The veteran’s service details: This includes dates of service and branch details.
  4. Marital details: This applies to both the veteran and you as the surviving spouse, for your marriage to each other as well as any other marriages for either of you.
  5. The veteran’s medical details: All medical records relevant to the veteran must be included, including VA medical centers used and treatments provided.

There are additional VA DIC application sections that might be pertinent to you if you are also claiming survivor’s pension, which include details about your income, assets and medical bills. Additionally, there are specific sections for a child claimant or a parent of a veteran to complete as appropriate.

How to Make a VA DIC Claim

To claim VA DIC, you will need to supply ample detailed information proving the claim you are making. If the death happened while in service, a Military Casualty Assistance Officer will help you in completing VA Form 21P-534a “Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and/or Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child” and mailing it to the Philadelphia regional office.

Claiming VA DIC can be done by a surviving spouse or child(ren), or by a surviving parent using VA Form 21P-534EZ “Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits”. The VA strongly suggests that you work with an accredited representative or claims agent for assistance with completing the claims. You can find an accredited attorney, claims agent or Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) Representative online in the VA website database.

Any professionals listed in that database are accredited, which means those organizations and individuals have permission from the VA to represent veterans before the department in their claims for VA benefits. These individuals and organizations have received specialized training for understanding VA benefits law and procedures, which helps to ensure that all veterans and their family members receive quality representation. If you have any questions about certain accredited individuals or even about attorneys’ fees, you can contact the VA by email at: ogcaccreditationmailbox@va.gov

You can also submit a DIC claim in person at a VA regional office, which you can locate on the VA website. Make sure you bring all supporting documentation with you to the office, although the VA can also help you in trying to locate required records.

Related Article: Eligibility for VA Disability Compensation

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