The wide world of benefits available to veterans, their spouses, and their dependents is very complicated. Keeping track of what’s out there, what you might qualify for, and what you can actually expect to get in the instances where you do qualify is nearly impossible for the average military family. In the hopes of helping clarify at least some of the confusion, here are the main things you and your family should know about the DIC benefit.
What is DIC?
First things first, DIC stands for Dependency Indemnity Compensation. The DIC is a monthly payment made to the surviving spouse and children of veterans who either died during their service, due to an injury related to their service, or were disabled in the years leading up to their death.
How Do I Know if I’m Eligible?
As with many government benefits, eligibility gets a little complicated. You must be the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who either:
- Died while on active duty or training for active duty
- Died due to a service-related injury
- Had a service-related injury that caused them to be disabled in the years leading up to their death.
In addition, the veterans’ spouse must have married the veteran within 15 years of their military service if they didn’t die during active duty, been married to them for at least a year, or had a child with them. The spouse also can’t have remarried after the veteran’s death or been at fault for a separation with the veteran before their death.
That’s a lot of ifs, ands, and ors, so if reading through all that made you confused, but you think there’s a pretty good chance you qualify, it’s worth talking to someone at your local VA office to gain some clarity and find out if it’s worth applying.
How Much is it For?
The base rate is $1,215 per month, but that amount can go up based on the veteran’s rank, the number of children, and if you’re eligible for additional benefits such as the Aid & Attendance pension. Typically, each child you have under 18 will add $301, and an extra $258 may be added as well if your spouse was entitled to receive benefits for a service-related disability during the 8 years before their death, if you were married to them in that time.
As with eligibility, the actual numbers can be pretty complicated and change depending on particular circumstances, but you can see a thorough breakdown on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
How Do I Apply?
If you’ve gotten this far and are ready to send in your application, then you should complete VA Form 21-534 and send it in to your local VA office. If you want some help filling it out correctly, then you can always go into the regional VA office in person and work with a representative there who’s familiar with the benefit and associated paperwork. If you’re not sure where your closest office is, you can look it up here.
Losing a loved one is always a blow, no matter how it happens. If your loved one’s death occurred due to their service to this country, you can at least enjoy a little bit of financial solace to make dealing with the day-to-day easier in the days to come. It won’t make the grief go away, but it can ease some of your economic stress as you work to heal.