Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax-free benefit that is available to the surviving dependents and spouses of veterans who died in service or of a “service related” disease or injury related to their time in service.
What Is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)?
There are specific criteria which the surviving spouses or dependents of deceased veterans must meet in order to be eligible for DIC. There is also an evidence requirement. Once a DIC claim is filed, the VA will review the application and determine whether to award an approval.
Eligibility For DIC
In order to qualify for DIC, there are specific eligibility requirements for the surviving spouse and/or dependent children of a deceased veteran.
The requirements for a surviving spouse to be eligible for DIC include:
- Spouse was married to a service member who died during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive-duty training, or
- Spouse married the veteran before January 1st, 1957, or
- Spouse married the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the military in which the disease, injury, or illness that caused the veteran’s death began to manifest, or
- Spouse was married to the veteran for at least a year
A spouse is also eligible for DIC if they had a child with the veteran and cohabited with that veteran until their death. If the spouse and veteran were separated, the spouse cannot be eligible for benefits if they were at fault for the separation, and they have not remarried.
Below are the requirements for a surviving child:
In order for surviving children to be eligible for DIC, they cannot be included on the surviving spouse’s DIC, and they must be unmarried and under the age of 18. Unmarried children ages 18-23 can receive the benefit if they are still in high school, or enrolled in a VA-approved school or university.
Necessary Evidence Requirement
There is also an evidence requirement for DIC. The surviving spouse or children can provide military records as evidence, or the VA can search for the records relating to the deceased service member’s time in service. A deceased service member must have met at least one of the requirements listed below:
- Service member died while in active duty, active duty training, or inactive duty training, or
- Veteran died from a disease, illness, or injury related to their time in military service, or
- Veteran died from an injury or disease that was not related to their service, but was receiving or entitled to receive VA compensation for a service-related disability rated as totally disabling for at least 10 years prior to death (mesothelioma is considered totally disabling by the VA).
Surviving spouses or children who are approved for DIC will receive a monthly, tax free payment from VA each month. If the veteran’s death was after January 1st, 1993, the DIC pays out a basic monthly rate of $1,254, with additional allowances based on certain conditions. Those conditions are listed below:
- If at the time of the veteran’s death, they were receiving or entitled to receive compensation for a disability related to their service that was totally disabling (mesothelioma is rated totally disabling by the VA) for a continuous period of 8 years preceding their death, an additional $258 will be added to the monthly allowance. A spouse must have been married to the veteran for the entirety of those 8 years.
- Each dependent child under the age of 18 adds an additional $301 to the monthly allowance.
- If the surviving spouse is eligible for aid & attendance, $301 is added to the monthly allowance.
- If the surviving spouse is eligible for housebound benefits, $141 is added to the monthly allowance.
Spouses of veterans who were already approved for VA Disability Compensation for mesothelioma, need only apply for DIC and submit a death certificate showing that the veteran passed away from the mesothelioma. Spouses of veterans who never applied for VA Disability Compensation for their mesothelioma will need to submit evidence regarding the veteran’s exposure to asbestos while in the military in order to get approved for DIC.
Parents are also eligible to receive a version of DIC called Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation if they meet certain eligibility requirements. Parents must be either the biological, adoptive, or foster parents of a veteran in order to be eligible. Foster parents must have stood in as a parent for at least one year before the veteran’s last entry into active service.
Parents must submit the following evidence with their claim:
- The service member died from an injury, illness, or disease while on active duty, inactive duty training, or in the line of duty
- The service member died from an injury or specific disease in the line of duty while on inactive duty training
- The veteran died from an injury, illness, or disease that is related to their military service