Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: The Invisible VA Benefit

In this post, we’re talking about dependency and indemnity compensation.

Why should I apply?

100% Permanent and Total Disability, or 100 p&t, this is one of the most unknown and overlooked exclusive VA benefits. Most of the 100% P&T Veterans only take advantage of the disability, based on the current stage of life they’re in. However, I would like to explain to you the benefit of looking into this option if you are rated 100%.

We see two different areas in which Veterans are in, and the steps they take for DIC have resulted. However, we would encourage anyone at 100% P&T to look into the program.

Between the ages of 25-45 may lean towards the educational benefits and their own state benefits that cater to the 100% disabled.

Between the ages of 46-65 may seek medical care from the VA for their dependents.

However, from age 65 and above, they’re planning ahead. But wait a minute! We’re all 100% disabled for a reason…right? Usually, that means your mental and or physical condition has deteriorated to the point of no return. So why isn’t the (DIC) our first priority?

At first, I too overlooked this benefit until USAA turned me down for an increase to my current life insurance policy because of my condition. I was taken back and confused as USAA has never told me “no” in over 20 years. As I learned about what it meant to be 100% disabled and the benefits that followed, I ran across this article from Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick CCK Law that introduced me to one of the most important benefits for individuals with significant others and or dependants.

What is DIC?

The Dependency Indemnity Compensation is a monthly monetary amount that your significant other and or remaining dependants can receive if and when you move on to bigger and better pastures…layman’s terms, you’ve gone to an eternal resting place.

You’ll die knowing that the loved ones you’ve left behind will still be able to maintain a household. Now, this benefit also applies to service members who’ve died in combat and or a veteran who died from a service-connected condition.


Here comes the red tape! Like most benefits, in order to qualify for them, it seems to be more of a hassle than making an effort to apply.

We’ve all dealt with it in some way shape or form…you know the ones that make you feel like you must have a left eye patch covering a glass eye,9 toes, 11 fingers and a peg leg that glows in the dark to be eligible. Well…this isn’t much different. For a spouse to qualify for this benefit, they must fall into the if, or, and the category.

If: Married before Jan 1, 1957

Or: Married within 15 years of discharge, married for at least one year, had a child with the veteran

And: Lived with the veteran continuously until death.

Or: If separated, you were not found at fault for the separation
And: You’re not currently remarried NOTE a surviving spouse who remarries after Dec 2003 AND is past the age of 57 can receive the benefit.

Then: You’re eligible!

See that wasn’t so bad…wait, did I lose you? Yeah, the and’s and or’s and if’s makes my head spin as well.

What’s the Compensation?

As of Dec 2017, the monthly compensation for a surviving spouse is $1,283.11, and any child under the age of 18 add an additional $317.87

When Should I Apply?

Immediately after the veterans death
Within 1 year of the veterans death

How long is the benefit good for?

This is a permanent monthly stipend unless the surviving spouse remarries before the age of 57

Hey, I get it. Not everyone’s a big fan of planning for their own death. That’s probably why this benefit sits on the shelf as low priority. However, is it worth weaving through the red tape to have that peace of mind in knowing your loved ones will have a little compensation to continue on once you’re gone?

USAA has put out my life insurance flame…time to have tough discussions with my own family about options.

Christopher Borum is apart of VA Claims Insider Team and a retired Air Force Disabled Veteran. You can contact him at [email protected]

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