As a veteran, it’s important for you to be well-informed about the benefits and compensation you may be entitled to.
For those who have dependents, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, otherwise known as DIC, is a very important one to consider.
You might be wondering, what on earth is DIC?
Don’t worry–it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds! In simple terms, DIC is a monthly payment that Veterans Affairs (VA) offers to survivors of service members or veterans.
These survivors could be spouses, children or even parents who were financially dependent on the veteran.
Staying up-to-date about DIC rates is crucial.
These rates can change from year-to-year.
Being aware of the adjustments ensures you or your loved ones get the full amount you’re entitled to.
In this guide, we’re going to give you all the information you need about the current 2023 DIC rates.
We’ll talk about who is eligible for DIC, how these rates are determined, any changes in rates from previous years and even how to apply for DIC benefits.
Let’s dive in!
What is DIC?
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or DIC as it is often referred to, is a benefit managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
This monthly payment is provided to survivors of service members or veterans. But who exactly are these survivors?
They are the loved ones–spouses, children or parents–who were financially dependent on the veteran.
When a service member or veteran passes away due to a service-related injury or disease, it can bring unexpected challenges to their families.
The DIC is designed to ease these challenges, providing financial support to those who depended on the service member or veteran for their daily needs.
It’s the VA’s way of continuing to take care of military families.
Who is eligible for DIC?
Not everyone can apply for DIC.
There are certain rules about who can receive this benefit.
It is eligible to survivors of:
- A military member who died while on active duty
- A veteran whose death was the result of a service-related injury or disease
- A veteran whose death wasn’t related to their service but who was rated totally disabled by the VA. They normally would have had 100% permanent and total disability rating for a number of years
Let’s go through eligibility, based on the type of beneficiary.
If you are a surviving spouse of a service member or veteran, you could be eligible for DIC.
You need to meet one of the following conditions:
- You were married to the service member before they were discharged from the place where they were serving.
- You were married to the veteran for at least one year.
- You had a child with the veteran, and lived with them until their death or, if separated, you were not at fault for the separation.
And you shouldn’t have remarried after the veteran’s death if you’re under 57 years old.
Children are also eligible if they are:
- Unmarried and under 18 years old
- Between 18 and 23 years old and attending a VA-approved school
- Became permanently incapable of self-support before reaching 18 years old
Last but not least, parents of service members or veterans can also be eligible if they were financially dependent on their child for their needs.
To qualify, they must have an income of less than the limit set by law.
What are the 2023 DIC Rates?
DIC rates if a veteran died on or after January 1, 1993
Dependency and indemnity compensation is paid to a surviving spouse at the monthly rate of $1,562.74 for 2023.
DIC rates if veteran’s death was before January 1, 1993
Please refer to the VA’s DIC payment tables.
Additional DIC Allowances
- Add $331.84 if, at the time of death, the veteran was rated 100% disabled or unemployable as a result of disability. The veteran must have been rated the same for 8 continuous years immediately preceding death AND the surviving spouse has to have been married to the veteran for the same amount of time.
- Add $365.58 for each dependent child under age 18
- If the surviving spouse is entitled to aid and attendance (A&A), add $387.15
- If the surviving spouse is entitled to housebound benefits, add $181.37
- Add $387.15 if the surviving spouse has one or more children under the age of 18
How are DIC rates determined?
Determining the rates for DIC might seem like a complicated task, but it’s really not too difficult.
The DIC rates are set by Congress and are typically adjusted each year based on the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA).
The COLA takes into account the rise in the cost of consumer goods and services that people use every day, such as food, housing, medical care and clothing.
So, if these costs increase over the year, the DIC rates usually increase, too, helping the recipients keep up with the rising cost of living.
What are the different factors that affect DIC rates?
- Basic Rate: The base DIC rate is determined by the recipient’s relationship to the veteran. For example, the rate is different for spouses, children and parents. The VA provides a basic DIC rate to eligible spouses and additional amounts for dependent children.
- Additional Allowances: There also may be additional allowances, like for example, if a spouse was housebound or requires the aid and attendance of another person, they may receive a higher DIC rate. Similarly, parents’ DIC rates may change based on their income and marital status.
- Special Circumstances: Sometimes the VA considers special circumstances. For example, if the veteran was totally disabled for a specific period before their death, the spouse might receive a higher DIC rate.
It’s important to remember that each case is unique and the VA reviews all the factors involved to ensure the DIC rates are fair and adequate.
How do I apply for DIC benefits?
Applying for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits may feel complicated, like many things with the VA, but if you follow the steps it’s pretty straightforward.
Let’s break it down for you.
What documentation do I need?
Before you start the application process, it’s important to gather all the necessary information and documents you’ll need.
Here’s a list:
- Veterans military discharge papers: This includes the DD214 or any other equivalent document that shows the veteran’s discharge status and the nature of their service.
- Death certificate: You’ll need a copy of the veteran’s death certificate. If the death was service-related, it can be helpful to have medical evidence linking their cause of death to their military service.
- Marriage certificate and/or children’s birth certificates: If you’re a spouse applying for DIC, you’ll need a copy of your marriage certificate. If you’re applying for benefits for a child, you’ll need their birth certificate.
- Medical evidence: If you’re applying for an increased rate due to being housebound or needing aid and attendance, you’ll need to provide medical evidence to support this.
What is the DIC application process?
Once you have all your documents ready, you can follow these steps to apply.
- Complete VA Form 21P-534EZ. This is the “Application for DIC, Death Pension and/or Accrued Benefits.” It can be downloaded from the VA’s official website.
- Gather supporting documents. Attach copies of all supporting documents to your completed application form. Remember, it’s always a good idea to keep a copy of everything you send for your records.
- Send your application. You can mail your application to your local VA pension management center. Alternatively, you can also apply in person at a VA regional office.
Remember, it may take some time for the VA to review your application, but make sure to stay persistent and keep in touch if you have questions or concerns.
How do I keep my DIC benefits?
Once you’ve successfully applied and started receiving DIC benefits, you may think your work is done.
However, it is important to keep in mind that maintaining these benefits requires ongoing attention.
Here are some tips on how to ensure you continue to receive them.
Keep the VA informed of updates
First and foremost, you should always keep the VA updated about any changes in your circumstances. This includes changes like:
- Marital Status: If you remarry or divorce, it’s important to let the VA know. Your marital status impacts your eligibility for DIC benefits.
- Income Changes: For parents receiving DIC benefits, changes in income or financial status can affect your benefits. Make sure you promptly report any significant changes to your income or wealth.
- Changes in Dependents: If you are a spouse receiving DIC benefits for children who are no longer eligible–maybe they got married or turned 18 (or 23 if they were in school)–you should notify the VA.
The VA typically conducts yearly reviews of your benefits.
During this time, they might require information or documentation from you to confirm your ongoing eligibility.
Be proactive in responding to any requests from the VA and provide any required information promptly to avoid delays or issues with your benefits.
Keep yourself informed about any changes in VA regulations or DIC rates.
As we mentioned earlier, DIC rates can change from year to year.
Knowing the current rates will help you understand if you’re receiving the correct amount.
Contact the VA if in Doubt
Don’t hesitate to reach out to the VA if you have any questions or concerns about your benefits.
They can provide information and assistance to ensure you continue to receive your DIC benefits without any hiccups.
Maintaining your DIC benefits doesn’t have to be a complicated task.
By staying proactive, keeping informed and promptly reporting changes, you can ensure you continue to receive the benefits that you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about DIC
What happens if I remarry—will I lose my DIC benefits?
If you were a surviving spouse and remarried after the age of 57, or on or after December 16, 2003, you can still receive DIC benefits.
However, if you remarried before reaching 57 or before December 16, 2003, you would typically no longer be eligible.
How often do DIC rates change?
DIC rates are typically updated annually to account for the cost of living adjustments (COLA).
This means they can increase each year, depending on changes in the cost of everyday goods and services.
How can I check the status of my DIC application?
You can check the status of your application online by creating and signing into your account on the VA’s official website.
Alternatively, you can call the VA’s toll-free number at 1-800-827-1000.
Are DIC benefits taxable?
No, DIC benefits are not considered taxable income by the federal government.
This means you won’t have to report them on your federal income tax return.
How long after the veteran’s death can you apply for DIC benefits?
You can apply for DIC benefits at any time after the veteran’s death.
However, to receive maximum benefits, you should apply within one year of the death.
If approved, benefits are generally awarded from the day following the veteran’s death.
Can a divorced spouse receive DIC benefits?
No, typically only a surviving spouse—someone who was married to the veteran at the time of their death—can receive DIC benefits.
If you divorced the veteran before their death, you would not be eligible.
If the veteran’s children live with me, can I get DIC benefits for them?
Only the legal guardian of the veteran’s children can receive DIC benefits on their behalf.
If you are not the legal guardian, you would not be able to receive benefits for them.
Getting Help With Your Claim for DIC Benefits
If you or someone you know is filing for DIC benefits and needs assistance, the team at Hill & Ponton is here to help.
Our experienced veterans’ disability lawyers can asses your case.
Click the button below to get more information.
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