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Mesothelioma Survivors & Death Pension

Quick Summary

The Survivors Pension, also known as the Death Pension, is a tax-free benefit that is generally paid to the spouse and children of a deceased veteran.

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How Does VA Survivors Pension Work?

This benefit is intended to support low-income family members of a deceased veteran who served during a time of war.

For surviving spouses to receive a Survivor’s Pension, the spouse must not have remarried. If the surviving spouse is eligible for a higher rate of pension because there are dependent children under the age of 18, those children must also remain unmarried to retain the higher rate pay.

The Survivors Pension is provided through the VA, and the VA has specific eligibility requirements that the deceased veteran and surviving dependents must meet in order to receive the benefit.

Surviving dependents also must have an annual income lower than a specific amount set by Congress, called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR).

Survivors Pension Eligibility

In order to be eligible for the Survivors Pension, surviving dependents and the deceased veteran must both meet certain requirements set by the VA.

The eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Veteran cannot have been dishonorably discharged.
  • Veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least one of those days during a period of war.
  • If the veteran entered active duty after September 7th, 1980, they must have served for at least 24 months of active duty service or completed the full period of active duty for which they were called up. At least one of those days must be in a wartime period.
  • Surviving spouse cannot be remarried.
  • Surviving children cannot be married.
  • Surviving children must be under the age of 18 unless they are in school, in which case they can be aged 18-23.
  • Annual countable family income must be below the MAPR amount set by Congress.
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Survivors Pension Rates

In order for surviving dependents of a deceased veteran to be eligible for the Survivors Pension, they must meet specific financial requirements.

Surviving dependents must have a lower annual income than the amount set by Congress. The VA will also evaluate the net worth of each applicant to determine if their assets are so large that it would be reasonable for the surviving spouse to live off of for an extended period of time.

Net worth can include financial assets, such as stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and properties owned, not including the spouse’s primary residence.

Did you know

As of 2020, the MAPR amount for a spouse without children is $9,224. For a surviving spouse with one dependent child, that number is $12,072. For every additional surviving child, $2,351 is added to the benefit.

For surviving spouses or children who require Aid & Attendance or are housebound, the annual income limit is higher.

In order to calculate the amount of a Survivors Pension, surviving dependents should take the difference between the MAPR and their annual income.

For example, if a surviving spouse has an annual income of $6,000, then they would receive the difference between $9,224 and $6,000 — which is $3,224. The Survivors Pension is paid in monthly installments.

All income is counted including payments from Social Security, however, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) income from the Social Security Administration is not counted.

In addition, out-of-pocket medical expenses that exceed 5% of the applicable MAPR may be deducted from the spouse’s income for qualification purposes.

If your loved one has passed away after battling mesothelioma, contact one of our VA-accredited Claims Agents to help you understand the compensation you may be entitled to.

Contact our Veteran Support Team today.

Veterans Support Team
Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) PhotoReviewed by:Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG)

VA-Accredited Attorney

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) is an attorney, a former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, and a legal advisor at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center. Today, Eric continues to serve as a Captain in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where he is Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, upholding his dedication to his country and fellow veterans. Eric considers it his duty to help his veteran family and strives to help them navigate the VA and receive the benefits they so bravely earned.

Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

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