In Houston, TX, Does My Wife Get My Veterans Disability Income If I Die?

As a disabled veteran, one of the things that may you may be concerned about is the fate and welfare of your spouse and family after your passing. It’s a difficult subject, but one you may need to give thought to in respect to your will and other estate planning matters.

If your Veterans disability income is an important part of your monthly budget, it is possible that your spouse can receive it after your death, but it isn’t automatic.

Woman with a pen completing a life insurance policy and Veterans Disability Income paperwork.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

A spouse, child or parent of a veteran who died in the line of duty, a survivor of a Vietnam veteran who died from a service-related illness or injury may be eligible for DIC. This is a monthly payment to surviving spouses, children, and occasionally parents, and it is tax-free.

However, there are eligibility requirements to apply for and begin receiving DIC. A surviving spouse must fill out an application to request these monthly benefits, as well as notify the VA that the veteran is deceased.

Criteria For DIC

The VA uses the following criteria to define a surviving spouse, if he or she:

  • Were married to the veteran in excess of one year
  • Were married for any time period and the spouse died
    • On active duty
    • During training while on active duty or inactive duty
  • Were married to the veteran within 15 years of his discharge, and the veteran’s death was caused by or exacerbated by a service-connected injury or illness
  • If the marriage date was prior to January 1, 1957
  • Had a child with the veteran, and was:
    • Living with the veteran until his/her death, or
    • Separated from the veteran and was not the survivor’s fault

A spouse may be eligible if the veteran died:

  • On active duty
  • From a service-connected injury or illness
  • While doing training on active duty or inactive duty
  • Was receiving disability compensation from the VA:
    • For at least 10 years before passing
    • From his or her discharge date, for at least five years before passing away
    • For at least 1 year if he or she were a prisoner of war

Remarriage

If a spouse remarries and before reaching age 57 or before December 16, 2003, the VA won’t consider them a “surviving spouse.”  But they would be considered “surviving” if the remarriage happened after the age of 57 and after that date.

Survivor’s Pension

For low-income, unremarried surviving spouses, the Survivor’s Pension may also be available if your spouse is a deceased wartime veteran.

The veteran must have:

  • Served for at least 90 days of active duty and at least one day during a period of wartime if he or she joined on or before September 1, 1980.
  • Served for at least 24 months or for the full period of enlistment with at least one day during a period of wartime if he or she joined after September 1, 1980.
  • Been discharged from the service under other than honorable conditions

Your family’s income must be less than the annual pension limit set by Congress, and the VA will use your “countable income” against the set limit. Some unreimbursed medical expenses may be deducted from the “countable income” and lower the income for the year.

Other Survivor’s Benefits

In addition to DIC and the Survivor’s Pension, spouses and children may also be eligible for:

  • Survivor’s & Dependent’s Educational Assistance Program, available for spouses and children of disabled and deceased veterans who are interested in educational and vocational training, including college-level and university-level courses. There are time limits involved, particularly for children.
  • Home Loans for service members, veterans, and spouses to buy a home, as well as repairs, refurbishing, remodeling and modifications to accommodate specific needs (such as a wheelchair ramp.)
  • Fiduciary services for veterans and beneficiaries who are unable to handle their own financial affairs.
  • Will planning and benefit training, with a free online will service. Financial services professionals are available 24/7.

An Advocate For Disabled Veterans And Spouses

If you’re a disabled veteran, or the spouse of one, don’t let the application and appeals process for Veterans disability income confuse you—get help from someone who can guide you through it.  Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.