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April 30, 2024

The BEST 100 Percent Disabled Veteran Benefits for Spouses (2024 Update)

Last updated on May 1, 2024

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Spouses of 100% disabled veterans can access a variety of benefits, including compensation, CHAMPVA healthcare, VA home loans, property tax exemptions, and educational assistance, among others.

In this article, we’ll explore the 9 best benefits for spouses of 100 percent disabled veterans along with detailed descriptions of each program along with eligibility criteria.

Benefits for the Spouses of 100 Percent Disabled Veterans

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)Monthly compensation for surviving spouses of veterans with a 100% disability rating.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA, Chapter 35)Education benefits for eligible surviving spouses and dependents of certain veterans.
CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs)Comprehensive health care program for eligible spouses and children of disabled veterans.
Commissary and Exchange PrivilegesShopping privileges at military commissaries and exchanges for spouses of 100% disabled veterans.
Property Tax ExemptionsExemptions from property tax for primary residences of 100% disabled veterans and their surviving spouses in many states.
VA Survivor’s PensionSupplemental income for surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased wartime veterans.
VA Home Loan GuarantyAssistance for eligible surviving spouses to purchase, build, repair, or adapt a home with benefits like no down payment and competitive interest rates.
Educational Scholarships and GrantsThe spouses of 100% disabled veterans may be eligible for educational scholarships and tuition grants through various states and programs.
VA Burial BenefitsBurial benefits for spouses of veterans, including burial in a VA national cemetery, burial allowance, transportation costs, and more.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

If your spouse passes away with a 100% VA disability rating, you may be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).

In 2024, the base compensation rate for a surviving spouse is $1,612.75 per month.

Also, there are circumstances where additional compensation may apply:

  • If the deceased veteran spouse maintained a 100% VA disability rating for a minimum of eight years preceding their passing, and the surviving spouse was married to them for the entirety of those eight years, the compensation is increased by an additional $342.46 per month.
  • Should the surviving spouse have a disabling condition necessitating regular assistance with daily activities, compensation increases by $399.54 per month.
  • If the surviving spouse is confined to their home due to a disability, compensation is increased by $187.17 per month.
  • You can also get additional monthly compensation for dependent children.
  • Check your spousal eligibility for DIC here.

Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA, Chapter 35)

As the spouse of a 100% disabled veteran, you might be eligible for the Chapter 35 benefits program, also called Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA), which provides education benefits and special restorative training for eligible surviving spouses of certain veterans and service members.

Eligible dependents can receive up to 36 or 45 months of full-time or equivalent benefits for any of the following: College, technical, or vocational degree programs, independent study, online distance learning, or correspondence courses, high school diploma or GED programs, educational and career counseling programs, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and career training certificate courses.

  • Your benefits begin either from the date it is determined you qualify or from the date of the veteran’s death.
  • Benefits last for 10 years.
  • If the veteran is officially rated as permanently and totally disabled, and this rating is assigned three years after they were discharged from active duty, your benefits can last for 20 years from that rating date.
  • If the service member died while still on active duty, your benefits would extend for 20 years from the date of death.

VA Chapter 35 Pay Rates (DEA & Educational Training Pay Rates):

This primary category includes college or graduate degree programs, career training certificate courses, and educational and career counseling only.

Training TimeMonthly Pay Rate
Full time$1,488.00
¾ time$1,176.00
½ time$862.00
less than ½ time and more than ¼ time*$862.00
¼ time or less*$372.00

Note: *Tuition and fees only. Payment cannot exceed the listed amount.

DEA Apprenticeship and On-the-Job Training Pay Rates:

Training PeriodMonthly Pay Rate
First 6 months of training$945.00
Second 6 months of training$710.00
Third 6 months of training$466.00
Remainder of training$237.00

DEA Farm Cooperative Training Pay Rates:

Training TimeMonthly Pay Rate
Full time$980.00
¾ time$737.00
½ time$489.00

DEA Special Restorative Training Pay Rates:

Training PeriodMonthly Pay Rate
Full time$1,488.00
Accelerated Charges – Cost of Tuition and Fees in Excess Of$392.00
Entitlement Reduced 1 day for Each$49.60 (1/30th of fulltime rate)
  • Check your eligibility for Chapter 35 DEA benefits here.

CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs)

The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a comprehensive health care program in which the VA shares the cost of covered health care services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries.

This program is for the spouses or children of veterans who have been rated by the VA as having a total and permanent disability due to a service-connected disability, for the survivors of veterans who died from VA-rated service-connected disabilities, or veterans who were rated permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected condition at the time of death.

Note: CHAMPVA is specifically designed for those who are not eligible for TRICARE.

Under CHAMPVA, eligible beneficiaries can receive care from any health care provider that is willing to accept CHAMPVA, and they are responsible for a cost share of the covered health care expenses.

Here are a few key points about CHAMPVA:

  • It covers most health care services and supplies that are medically and psychologically necessary.
  • There is an annual deductible as well as a cost share percentage that the beneficiary must pay.
  • There are no network restrictions, so beneficiaries can choose their own health care providers.
  • Prescription medication coverage is also included under CHAMPVA.

Beneficiaries must meet specific eligibility criteria and are not covered if they are eligible for TRICARE or have other health insurance coverage.

  • Check your eligibility and apply for CHAMPVA here.

Commissary and Exchange Privileges

Spouses of veterans who are rated as 100 percent permanently and totally disabled due to service-connected conditions are granted Commissary and Exchange privileges.

These privileges allow eligible spouses to shop at military commissaries and exchanges, which provide a variety of goods at reduced prices typically free from sales tax.

  • Commissary Privileges: Commissaries are grocery stores that operate on military installations worldwide. They offer a wide range of products at cost plus a 5% surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. This can result in significant savings compared to civilian market prices.
  • Exchange Privileges: Exchanges are retail stores also located on military bases. They sell a wide array of merchandise, including electronics, clothing, and household goods. Profits from exchanges are used to support morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) activities for service members.
  • Besides shopping privileges, eligible spouses may also use other MWR facilities, which can include theaters, recreation centers, and hobby shops.
  • Access to online shopping through the Exchange’s websites, expanding shopping options beyond physical store locations.
  • Check your eligibility for Commissary and Exchange privileges here.

Property Tax Exemptions

Many states offer property tax exemptions for the primary residences of 100% disabled veterans, which often extend to their surviving spouses.

20 states offer complete property tax waivers that also transfer to the surviving spouses of veterans with a 100 percent VA rating, meaning eligible spouses are completely exempt from paying property tax on their primary residence.

Eligibility varies by state and type of 100 percent VA disability rating so be sure to check your state and local county tax office website.

  • View the 20 states with property tax exemptions for spouses of 100% disabled veterans here.

Survivor’s Pension

The Survivor’s Pension, also known as the Death Pension, is a benefit paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to eligible dependents of deceased wartime veterans.

This pension is designed to provide supplemental income to surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased veterans who served during a period of war.

Survivor’s Pension Requirements:

  • The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service, with at least one day during a recognized period of war.
  • The veteran must have been discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • The spouse must not have remarried after the veteran’s death.
  • Children must be under the age of 18, or under 23 if attending a VA-approved school, or have been permanently incapable of self-support due to a disability before the age of 18.

Income Test:

  • The Survivor’s Pension is a needs-based benefit, meaning that the income of the surviving family members must not exceed a yearly limit set by Congress.
  • The VA subtracts any income the family receives from the maximum pension amount to determine the eligible pension amount.
  • Check your eligibility for VA Survivors Pension here.

VA Home Loan Program

The VA Home Loan Guaranty program is a valuable benefit for spouses of veterans who have been rated as 100 percent permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability.

This benefit helps eligible surviving spouses purchase, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for personal occupancy.

Key Benefits of the VA Home Loan Guaranty for Eligible Spouses:

  • No Down Payment Required: One of the most significant advantages of the VA Home Loan is that it often does not require a down payment, making homeownership more accessible.
  • No Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): Unlike many conventional loans, VA loans do not require private mortgage insurance, which can lead to substantial monthly savings.
  • Competitive Interest Rates: VA loans typically offer lower interest rates compared to traditional loans, which can significantly reduce the cost over the life of the mortgage.
  • Limitation on Closing Costs: The VA limits the closing costs lenders can charge to VA loan applicants, further reducing the cost of purchasing a home.
  • Assistance with Mortgage Payments: In cases of financial hardship, the VA can provide assistance to help prevent foreclosure.

Eligibility for Surviving Spouses:

  • The unremarried spouse of a veteran who died while in service or from a service-connected disability is eligible.
  • Spouses of service members missing in action or prisoners of war may also be eligible.
  • In some cases, surviving spouses who remarry after the age of 57 may still be eligible.
  • Check your eligibility for a VA home loan here.

Educational Scholarships and Grants

Some states, schools, and non-profits offer scholarships and grants for the children and spouses of 100% disabled veterans, which can be used for college or vocational training.

Here’s a list of states that offer tuition grants to the spouses of 100% disabled veterans:

The educational grants available to the spouses of veterans with a 100% VA disability rating vary by state. Here are the states from your list that provide these benefits:

Arkansas: The Arkansas Military Dependents Scholarship (MDS) program waives in-state tuition, on-campus room and board, and mandatory fees for spouses of veterans who are 100% permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability.

California: Plan A under California’s College Fee Waiver program provides benefits to qualifying spouses of veterans with 100% disability ratings. This covers state-wide tuition and program fees at California State University, University of California, and California community colleges.

Florida: The Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans program in Florida offers financial help with tuition and fees at any eligible public or private school for spouses of veterans who have a 100% permanent and total VA disability rating or individual unemployability rating.

Illinois: The Illinois MIA/POW Scholarship covers full payment of tuition and some fees at any Illinois state-supported college or university for spouses of veterans who have a 100% service-connected disability rating.

Louisiana: Louisiana’s State Dependent Tuition Exemption program applies to spouses of veterans with VA-rated disabilities of 90% or higher, covering tuition and school fees.

Maine: Offers a 100% waiver for college tuition and fees at schools in the Maine University System, Maine Community College System, and Maine Maritime Academy for spouses of veterans with a 100% service-connected disability rating.

Here’s a list of notable educational scholarships for the spouses of 100% disabled veterans:

  • Folds of Honor Scholarships: Provides $5,000 per year for spouses and dependents of deceased or disabled veterans or active duty Purple Heart recipients to pursue their first degree or certificate at accredited institutions​.
  • Heroes’ Legacy Scholarships: Offered by the Fisher House Foundation, these are merit-based scholarships for children and spouses of deceased or 100% disabled veterans. Applicants need to demonstrate academic achievement, extra-curricular participation, and financial need​.
  • Purple Heart Scholarship Program: Available to Purple Heart recipients, their spouses, children, and grandchildren. It awards up to $5,000 for those pursuing their first degree or certificate​.
  • Liberty University Heroes Fund Scholarship: This “gap” scholarship covers the remaining tuition and fees after other aid is applied, for spouses of service members who were killed during the Gulf Wars or have a combat-related VA disability over 50%​.
  • Patriot Legacy Fund Scholarships: Provides need-based scholarships for dependents and spouses of U.S. veterans with at least a 10% VA disability rating. The program aims to support undergraduate education​.
  • No Greater Sacrifice Scholarships: Offers up to full tuition for four years for children of post-9/11 fallen and wounded service members, which can also be accessed by spouses under certain conditions​
  • Find the best veteran benefits by state here.

Burial Benefits

VA burial benefits are available to the spouses of veterans, including those rated 100 percent disabled at the time of death due to service-connected conditions.

These benefits are designed to honor the service of veterans and provide dignified recognition for their families, including spouses.

Burial in a VA National Cemetery:

  • Spouses are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery.
  • This includes the burial plot or columbarium niche, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, all at no cost to the family.
  • There is no requirement for the veteran to predecease the spouse.
  • Spouses and dependent children may be buried even if they predecease the veteran.

Private Cemetery Benefits:

  • If a spouse is buried in a private cemetery, the benefits available include a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate.
  • The VA does not cover the cost of the plot or the burial expenses in private cemeteries.

Columbarium or Inurnment in a Niche:

  • If cremation is chosen, spouses have the right to inurnment in a columbarium at a VA national cemetery.
  • Check your eligibility for VA burial benefits here.

About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).

Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start. 

As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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