VA DIC benefits are easily confused due to the many dates and restrictions placed on surviving family members. This is not to mention the sometimes indecipherable language related to DIC payments similar to social security pension benefits.
VA DIC benefits are available to the surviving family of service members who either passed away in the line of duty or due to service-connected disability.
What does VA DIC mean?
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Benefits. VA DIC are tax-free disability benefits available for spouses, dependents, and parents through the VA. DIC rates are set on an annual basis.
Who is eligible for VA DIC?
The (1) surviving spouse, (2) dependent child, or (3) parent of a military Servicemember or Veteran who has passed away and meets the following conditions listed below may be eligible for VA DIC benefits. We’ll get into each survivor type below.
DIC Benefits for Eligible Surviving Spouse
If you were either married prior to Jan. 1, 1957, or married within 15 years of discharge (from the time of service during which the injury or illness began), or remarry before your spouse the disabled veteran passes, you qualify for a special survivor indemnity allowance (ssia) in the form of a monthly payment.
You are also eligible if you’ve been married for at least a year.
Finally, you can receive DIC benefits even if you were not technically married. If you had a child with a military member and/or are currently pursuing a remarriage at the time of application, you should still fill out a VA form.
Should this situation apply to you, you must show that you either lived with the military member prior to their death or that your separation from them was not your fault.
Please note that if you were 57 years or older and married on or after Dec. 16, 2003, you are also eligible to continue receiving compensation.
Spouses are eligible if the military member died from a military service-connected injury or illness or died either in the line of duty or during training.
Spouses may also be eligible if the military member was receiving compensation for total disability prior to passing away, even if the immediate cause of death was unrelated to the military.
How long does VA DIC last?
VA DIC is considered permanent for surviving spouses. However, if you are a dependent child receiving VA DIC, it would only last until 18 years of age or up to 23 years of age if you are enrolled into an university and pursuing higher education. Below, let’s talk about VA DIC benefits for dependent children.
VA DIC for Dependents
Like we mentioned earlier, if you are one of the dependent children of a service member who passed away from a service-related injury you must be under the age of 18 to qualify for VA DIC benefits. Surviving children in the United States who are enrolled in higher education will qualify for VA DIC up to the age of 23.
As a surviving child, you cannot be married or included in the compensation of a surviving spouse. So if your father passes away in the military and both you and your mother receive compensation for it, you cannot apply for DIC benefits as well.
These rules regarding DIC eligibility, promoted by Congress, are true regardless of whether you were the biological or adopted child of the military member.
For dependents, their parent must have passed away while on active duty or during training (either for active or in-active duty). Children can also apply if the veteran died from a service-connected injury or illness. Finally, children may qualify even if the veteran did not die from a service-connected injury or illness.
In some cases, DIC benefits are issued if the veteran was rated as totally disabled for a service-connected injury or illness for a certain period of time.
DIC Benefits for Surviving Parents
Parents of military members may qualify for DIC benefits if their income is below a certain threshold. Parents must be either biological, adoptive, or foster parents. (Foster parents are defined as those who served as the primary parent before the last entry of active service.)
The compensation from the department of veterans affairs will depend on a number of factors, including whether the parent lives with a spouse. Eligibility guidelines state that the veteran’s death must have occurred either in the line of duty or during active duty or inactive duty training.
Parents are also generally eligible if the veteran died from a service-connected injury or illness, either while in the line of duty, during inactive training, or after being discharged.
What are the Restrictions for Total Disability?
If you are a spouse or child filing for DIC benefits under the Total Disability qualification, the military member must have had held this rating for at least 10 years before their death or for at least one year before the time of their death, providing they were a former prisoner of war after Sep. 30, 1999.
Dependents or spouses can also qualify if they held this rating since their release from active duty and at least 5 continuous years prior to their death.
For instance, if a military member suffered from a catastrophic injury during training that left both legs amputated, they may have received a total disability rating of 100 immediately upon release. They will have needed to have maintained this rating for at least 5 years until their death from any cause not related to their time in the military.
Can I Receive SBP Payments and DIC?
Some survivors of veterans are eligible to receive both a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and DIC benefits at the same time, otherwise known as sbp-dic. This compensation package is generally available to spouses who are entitled to both and were remarried after the age of 57.
Please note that a new law was passed for those who were experiencing an offset of their SBP due to DIC benefits. The regulations were passed to initially reduce the offset and then eliminate it entirely by January 1, 2023.
How To Apply for VA DIC benefits
Eligible survivors can apply for VA benefits by filling out the appropriate forms and supplying the necessary documentation. This will typically include birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, or official adoption paperwork.
You can apply through the VA Regional Office (RO) with the help of a VA employee or work with an accredited representative to submit all of your information. Finally, you can mail the forms and additional paperwork to the Pension Management Center in your state. Whether your child, spouse, or parent was in the Air Force, Navy, or Marine Corps, you’ll qualify for veterans’ benefits under the DIC guidelines.
How much does VA pay for DIC?
The basic monthly tax-free DIC benefit pay increased from $1,357.56 for 2021 to $1,437.66 a month for 2022. This is due to the 5.9% increase in the benefit. The amount of tax-free compensation you receive may vary depending on everything from the type of survivor you are to the income at the time of death.
In some cases, you may not be eligible for a monthly benefit payment. For more information on estimated monthly payments, check out the VA website here.
Why did VA deny my DIC claim?
That’s a tough one to answer because there are so many restrictions and dates to keep track of with eligibility for DIC. VA plays its cards close and oftentimes will contradict themselves. One employee may give you a certain advice while another VA rep tells you the opposite.
If you’ve been fighting for VA DIC benefits for years and getting nowhere then it may be time to consult with a legal professional. Thankfully for you, Hill & Ponton has been practicing disability-based law for over 30 years.
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