A Lifelong Bond: A Parent’s Guide to DIC Benefits

Last Updated‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎

Written by

Table of Contents

Losing a child who served in the military is an unimaginable grief. 

It’s a profound loss that changes the fabric of your life forever. 

In recognition of this sacrifice and the unique challenges you may face as a consequence, the VA provides a benefit called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for parents and other dependents. 

These benefits help acknowledge your child’s service and sacrifice, and provide you with financial support in your time of need. 

This guide is provided to simplify the process, explaining steps and what’s needed from you. We’ll cover:

  • Am I Eligible? We’ll cover who’s eligible, so you can ensure you get support.
  • How Do I Apply? We’ll guide you through making the process simpler.
  • How Do I Maximize My Benefits? Get the full range of support, including additional allowances you may be entitled to.
  • Your Questions Answered We’ll cover the most common questions from parents.

Let’s work together to explore how DIC benefits can help honor the memory of your child, while also providing you with the support you need and deserve.

Eligibility Criteria: Understanding Parent Qualifications

The journey through grief of losing a child is personal and complex, especially a child who served.

The VA tries to recognize this with their DIC benefits, hoping to offer support.

It’s important to understand if you qualify, so here’s a look at the criteria:

Income and Dependency

DIC benefits for parents are unique because they will consider your financial need. 

Here’s what the VA looks for:

  • Income Threshold: Your income must fall below a certain limit set by the VA. This includes most types of income but is adjusted based on your living situation and any dependents you have.
  • Financial Dependency: The VA looks at whether you were financially dependent on your child at the time of their death. This can include shared living expenses or reliance on their financial support.

Parental Relationship

To be eligible for DIC benefits, you must be the biological, adoptive or in some cases, step-parent of the service member or veteran. 

The key is demonstrating a parental relationship and financial dependency on your child.

Special circumstances to this rule may include:

  • Multiple Parents: If both biological parents are alive, each may apply separately and eligibility is assessed individually based on whether both parents are living in the same or separate households.
  • Step-Parents and Adoptive Parents: You’re encouraged to apply if you played a significant parental role and were financially dependent on the veteran.

Service Connection

Your child’s death must be connected to their military service, whether it happened in the line of duty or resulted from a service-related injury or disease after their discharge.

Applying for DIC as a Parent

After understanding the eligibility criteria for DIC, the next step is applying. 

This process might seem complex, but breaking it down into manageable steps can help a great deal.

Here’s what you need to do to get started:

Step 1: Gather Necessary Documentation

To apply, you’ll need several pieces of documentation, including:

  • Proof of Your Relationship: Birth certificate of your veteran, showing your name as a parent.
  • Financial Information: Documentation that shows your current income and assets to establish your financial need.
  • Veteran’s Service and Death Information: Your veteran’s military discharge papers (DD214 or equivalent is usually acceptable) and a death certificate. 

Step 2: Completing the Application

In order to apply for DIC benefits, you’ll need to fill out VA Form 21P-535, the Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation by Parent(s), including Accrued Benefits and Death Compensation.

This form will ask for details about you, your financial situation and your child’s service and death.

Step 3: Submit Your Application

You can submit your application in one of the following ways:

  • Online: Through the VA’s website, using their digital submission process.
  • Mail: Sending your completed form and all necessary documents to the VA’s claims intake center.
  • In-Person: As your nearest VA regional office, where you can also get assistance from VA staff members.

Step 4: Await a Decision

After you submit, you’ll have a waiting period where your application will be reviewed by the VA. 

This can take time, between months to over a year, so patience is necessary. 

You can check the status of your application online or by contacting the VA directly. 

Need Additional Help?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, it’s totally understandable. 

A VA-accredited representative or a veteran service organization (VSOs) can help you fill out the form and gather documents, often at no cost to you.

If you have filed for benefits and believe you were wrongfully denied, sometimes having a VA-accredited law firm on your side can be beneficial.

Contact Hill & Ponton for information about how we can help you in your fight to secure the benefits you deserve.

Did the VA Deny Your Disability Claim?

Let our team review your case today!

Get a Free Case Evaluation

What are the DIC Benefits for Parents?

The loss of a child is an unimaginable tragedy, and when that child served in the military, their sacrifice is a profound one that affects not only their immediate family but our nation as a whole.

Recognizing this, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits to the parents of deceased veterans.

These benefits provide financial support to help alleviate the economic impact of their loss.

Below is a detailed exploration of the DIC benefits available to parents, highlighting the VA’s commitment to supporting the families of those who have served.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for Parents

  • Parents’ DIC: A tax-free income-based benefit for the biological, adoptive, or foster parents of service members who died in the line of duty or from a service-connected injury or disease. The amount varies based on the parents’ income and living situation, such as whether they are the sole surviving parent or if both parents are living. Current rates can be found on the VA website here.
  • Healthcare (CHAMPVA): If a parent is not eligible for TRICARE or Medicare, they may qualify for the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), which can cover a portion of their healthcare expenses.
  • Burial Benefits: Parents may receive benefits related to the burial and memorial of their deceased veteran child, including a government-furnished headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate to honor the veteran’s service.
  • Counseling Services: The VA offers bereavement counseling to parents who have lost a child in military service, helping them cope with their loss through specialized support services.
  • State Benefits: Several states offer additional benefits to the parents of deceased veterans, such as property tax exemptions and special state-sponsored memorials to honor the fallen. Check your local VA offices for more information.

How is My Income Considered When Applying for DIC Benefits?

Your income, along with your assets, directly affects your eligibility for DIC benefits. The VA considers both to ensure benefits go to parents in financial need, with thresholds set for income limits.

Can Both Parents of a Deceased Veteran Receive DIC Benefits?

Yes, both parents can apply for and potentially receive DIC benefits, provided they each meet the eligibility criteria. Benefits are calculated individually, based on each parent’s income and marital status.

Maximizing Your DIC Benefits

For parents of deceased veterans, understanding and maximizing DIC benefits is important. 

These benefits recognize your child’s sacrifice and support for you in times of financial need.

Here’s how to ensure you’re getting the most out of them: 

Understand Your Benefit Amount

DIC benefits for parents are based on income. 

Familiarize yourself with how the VA calculates these benefits. 

Also be aware that DIC benefit rates can be adjusted annually. 

You can check the VA’s website for updates that you’re receiving the correct amount here.

Keep Your Information Updated

If your financial situation happens to change, update the VA as soon as possible! 

This includes any changes to your income, assets or marital status, which all impact your benefit amount. 

Keep your contact details current with the VA so you ensure you get correspondence.

Explore Other VA Benefits for Parents

You may be entitled to certain VA healthcare benefits. 

Additionally, you could receive burial and funeral expense benefits to help honor your child’s service even in their passing.

Be sure to read about the VA Dependent Parent Program for other benefits you may be eligible for.

Cassandra Crosby, an Accredited Agent and claims advocate for Matthew Hill & Shelly Mark’s teams, reviewed the information provided in this post.

Written by

More Articles

News and advice about the VA, disability ratings and benefits.


Supporting Veterans Nationwide

  • Thank you to the firm of Hill & Ponton!! Brian Hill and his staff were able to get my 100% disability with the VA for my exposure to herbicides in Thailand. I have been fighting for this for many years and kept getting denied, after consulting with Hill & Ponton I decided to let them help me and it was the best decision I could have made. I found their professionalism to be outstanding.

    – Chip P.

    North Carolina

  • They got my disability rating after I was denied twice. They knew exactly how to format and submit the claim. I was rated 50%, Hill & Ponton weren’t done, they found other medical that related to exposure and submitted additional claims. I could not have received a disability rating without Hill & Ponton. If you need help, choose Hill & Ponton.

    – Thomas D.


  • The service provided by Hill and Ponton was exemplary. The lawyers and staff took care of every aspect with respect and understanding of the clients needs. In my case, as a new widow, they patiently walked me through each step. They kept me informed of the progress. I cannot say enough about the service they provided. Thank you Brian and staff.

    – Judith K Zitzewitz


  • As a Vet you may have filed a disability claim, and if you want to win your claim you need to call Hill and Ponton. I didn’t know what to do about my condition or status until I made the call. At H&P they not only took my case, but made me feel like family. They changed my life and they will change your life too. It’s true! In my opinion you can’t do better and you won’t regret it!

    – Paul K



About Hill & Ponton

Learn about the VA disability law firm, champions for veterans since 1986.