Survivors Pension is also known as the Death Pension. It is a tax-free benefit that is generally paid monthly to the surviving spouse and child(ren) of a deceased veteran. Loved ones of veterans who died of mesothelioma may be entitled to these monthly payments.
Survivors Pension and Mesothelioma Veterans
Survivors Pension can help spouses and children of veterans who have died of mesothelioma. Survivors Pension is a monthly and tax-free payment made to a spouse who has not remarried and the unmarried dependent children of a deceased veteran. The benefit is intended to support low-income family members of those who served during a time of war.
The Survivors Pension is provided through the VA and has specific eligibility requirements that the deceased veteran and surviving dependents must meet to receive the benefit. Surviving dependents also must have an annual income lower than an amount set by Congress, called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR).
Survivors Pension Eligibility
To be eligible for the Survivors Pension, surviving dependents and the deceased veteran must each meet certain important requirements set by the VA. The requirements relate to the veteran’s service, family income level, and the marital status of the survivor.
If you haven’t remarried after your spouse’s death or you are an unmarried dependent of a deceased veteran, you may be eligible. As long as your loved one was not dishonorably discharged, you may be entitled to monthly survivor’s payments.
The eligibility requirements are as follows:
- The veteran cannot have been dishonorably discharged.
- The 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.
Wartime period dates are:
- Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917, for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or adjacent waters)
- World War I (April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918)
- World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)
Family Member Requirements
- Surviving spouse cannot be remarried.
- Surviving children cannot be married.
- Surviving children must be under the age of 18 unless they are in a VA-approved school, in which case they can be aged 18-23.
- Annual countable family income must be below the MAPR amount set by Congress.
Income Level Requirements
As of December 1st, 2018, the MAPR income limit for a spouse without children was $9,078 per year. A surviving spouse must have an annual income below this number to be eligible for the benefit. For a surviving spouse with one dependent child, that number is $11,881. For every additional surviving child, $2,313 is added to the benefit.
Survivors Pension Rates
Surviving dependents of a deceased veteran must meet specific financial requirements to be eligible for the Survivors Pension. The yearly family income of surviving dependents must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify.
If eligible, the amount the veteran receives is equal to the difference between their “countable income” and the annual pension limit. The veteran will most likely be paid monthly in equal payments.
The VA will evaluate the net worth of each applicant to determine if it is large enough to reasonably live off of for an extended period of time. Net worth can include your annual income and the sum of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and properties owned. The spouse’s primary residence is not included in net worth evaluations.
The net worth limit set by Congress as of December 1, 2019 is $127,061.
For surviving spouses or children who require Aid & Attendance or are housebound, the annual income limit is higher.
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 $6,078, then they would receive the difference between $9,078 and $6,078 — which is $3,000.
All income is counted, including payments from Social Security. However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 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.
Filing for Survivors Pension & Other Benefits
Family members of deceased veterans can file for Survivors Pension through the mail, at a regional VA office, or by working with a VA-accredited claims agent.
VA-accredited claims agents can help you understand what benefits you may be eligible for. Once you know what you may be entitled to as a survivor of a wartime veteran, VA-accredited claims agents can help you apply for your benefits.
They can also help you:
- Understand the documents you are required to get
- Help you collect needed documents
- File claims on your behalf
- Arrange transportation to medical appointments
Applying for VA benefits can be a complex process. Because of this, you may want to work with a VA-accredited claims agent rather than trying to apply for benefits on your own. Agents receive extensive training which includes passing an exam, background check screenings, and taking continuing education courses.
Get Help with Filing a Survivors Pension Claim
If your loved one has passed away after battling mesothelioma, contact one of our VA-accredited claim agents to help you understand the compensation you are entitled to.
Contact our Veteran Support Team today to learn more about filing for survivors pension and other VA benefits.