Today, Brian Reese the VA Claims Insider reveals the Top 8 VA Benefits for Surviving Spouse this year.
If you are the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran who has passed away, you’re eligible for a host of VA benefits to help you navigate this challenging time.
Okay, let’s explore each of these VA Survivor Benefits below in more detail.
- Can I Get VA Surviving Spouse Benefits?
- List of the 8 Best VA Benefits for Surviving Spouse
- About the Author
Can I Get VA Surviving Spouse Benefits?
Yes, the VA offers some great benefits to the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran.
Here’s a list of some of the VA surviving spouse benefits:
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
- VA Survivors Pension
- CHAMPVA Healthcare
- Chapter 35 DEA
- VA Home Loan Guaranty
- Veterans Burial Allowance
- Accrued Benefits
- Tax Benefits
List of the 8 Best VA Benefits for Surviving Spouse
#1. Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Benefits
If your spouse dies with a 100% service connected VA disability rating, you may qualify for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
This refers to tax-free monthly benefits sent to the surviving spouses of disabled veterans.
If you’re the surviving spouse of a veteran, the minimum monthly DIC pay rate in 2023 is $1,562.74.
View the complete 2023 DIC pay rates HERE.
Note that surviving spouses can get additional monthly DIC compensation with any of the following:
|If this description is true…||You may qualify for this benefit||Additional monthly pay rate|
|– The Veteran had a VA disability rating of totally disabling (including for individual unemployability) for at least the 8 full years leading up to their death, and |
– You were married to the Veteran for those same 8 years
|– 8-year provision||– $331.84|
|– You have a disability and need help with regular daily activities (like eating, bathing, or dressing)||– Aid and Attendance||– $387.15|
|– You can’t leave your house due to a disability||– Housebound allowance||– $181.37|
|– You have 1 or more children who are under 18||– Transitional benefit, and |
– DIC apportionment rate
|– $332.00 for the first 2 years after the Veteran’s death |
– $387.15 for each
#2. VA Survivors’ Pension Benefits
VA Survivors Pension offers monthly payments to qualified surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of wartime Veterans who meet certain income and net worth limits set by Congress.
You may be eligible for this benefit if you haven’t remarried after the Veteran’s death, and if the deceased Veteran didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge and their service meets at least one of these requirements.
At least one of these must be true:
- The Veteran entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980, and served at least 90 days on active military service, with at least 1 day during a covered wartime period, or
- The Veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least 1 day during a covered wartime period, or
- The Veteran was an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, and hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months
#3. CHAMPVA Benefits
Surviving spouse or a child of a Veteran with disabilities or a Veteran who has died may be able to get health insurance through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).
You may only be eligible for health care through CHAMPVA if you don’t qualify for TRICARE and at least one of these descriptions is true for you.
At least one of these must be true:
- You’re the spouse or child of a Veteran who’s been rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability by a VA regional office, or
- You’re the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability, or
- You’re the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who was at the time of death rated permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability, or
- You’re the surviving spouse or child of a service member who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct (in most of these cases, family members qualify for TRICARE, not CHAMPVA), or
- A service-connected disability is a disability that we’ve concluded was caused—or made worse—by the Veteran’s active-duty service. A permanent disability is one that’s not expected to improve.
#4. Chapter 35 DEA Benefits
Surviving spouse or child of a Veteran may be eligible for VA education benefits (Chapter 35 benefits).
You may be eligible for VA education benefits (Chapter 35 benefits) if you’re the child or spouse of a Veteran and one of these descriptions listed is true of the Veteran.
One of these must be true:
- The Veteran is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, or
- The Veteran died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability
#5. VA Home Loan Guaranty Benefits
VA offers three home loan guaranty programs such as Purchase Loans, Cash-Out Refinance Home Loans and Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans to eligible surviving spouses of Veterans and service members.
These programs may be used to refinance a mortgage or help purchase, construct, or improve a home.
To get a VA-backed home loan as the surviving spouse of a Veteran, you’ll need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to show your lender that you qualify for this benefit.
You may be able to get a COE if you’re the spouse of a Veteran, and at least one of these descriptions is true for them.
At least one of these must be true:
- The Veteran is missing in action, or
- The Veteran is a prisoner of war (POW), or
- The Veteran died while in service or from a service-connected disability and you didn’t remarry, or
- The Veteran died while in service or from a service-connected disability and you didn’t remarry before you were 57 years old or before December 16, 2003, or
- The Veteran had been totally disabled and then died, but their disability may not have been the cause of death (in certain situations)
#6. Veterans Burial Allowance Benefits
Surviving dependents of a Veteran who has died may be eligible to receive burial allowances if you’re paying for the burial and funeral costs and you won’t be reimbursed by any other organization, like another government agency or the Veteran’s employer.
One of these relationships or professional roles describes your connection to the Veteran:
- You’re the Veteran’s surviving spouse (Note: We recognize same-sex marriages.), or
- You’re the surviving partner from a legal union (a relationship made formal in a document issued by the state recognizing the union), or
- You’re a surviving child of the Veteran, or
- You’re a parent of the Veteran, or
- You’re the executor or administrator of the Veteran’s estate (someone who officially represents the Veteran)
The Veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge, and one of these circumstances must be true:
- The Veteran died as a result of a service-connected disability (a disability related to service), or
- The Veteran died while getting VA care, either at a VA facility or at a facility contracted by VA, or
- The Veteran died while traveling with proper authorization, and at VA’s expense, either to or from a facility for an examination, or to receive treatment or care, or
- The Veteran died with an original or reopened claim for VA compensation or pension pending at the time of death, if they would’ve been entitled to benefits before the time of death, or
- The Veteran died while receiving a VA pension or compensation, or
- The Veteran died while eligible for a VA pension or compensation at their time of death, but instead received full military retirement or disability pay.
- The Veteran had been getting a VA pension or compensation when they died, or
- The Veteran had chosen to get military retired pay instead of compensation.
#7. Accrued VA Benefits
Surviving spouses may be eligible for a one-time accrued benefits payment.
You may qualify if you’re the surviving spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent of a Veteran who VA owed unpaid benefits at the time of their death.
VA pays accrued benefits based on the claimant’s relationship to the deceased beneficiary.
If there is no eligible living person, VA pays accrued benefits based on reimbursement.
#8. Tax Benefits
There are some states (Texas, Florida, and Illinois) that offer various tax benefits to surviving spouses of disabled veteran.
Veterans who receive compensation from the VA for a service-connected disability rating of 100% disabled or of individual unemployability are eligible for 100% property tax exemption on their homestead.
An unremarried Surviving Spouse can continue to receive this exemption if they continue to live on the homestead after the Veteran dies.
A Surviving Spouse can receive this exemption on a subsequent homestead if they do not remarry.
The amount of the exemption on the subsequent homestead will be the same dollar amount of the exemption on the first homestead.
Texas offers a partial property tax exemption for partially disabled Veterans.
The amount of the exemption is based on the percentage of service-connected disability the VA awarded the Veteran.
Texas Disability Exemption Amounts:
- $5,000 for 10% – 29% disability rating
- $7,500 for 30% – 49% disability rating
- $10,000 50% – 69% disability rating
- $12,000 70% – 99% disability rating
An unremarried Surviving Spouse or Child (under 18 and unmarried) of a qualifying disabled Veteran who dies are eligible for this exemption.
Florida offers property tax exemptions or discounts for resident Service members, honorably discharged disabled Veterans and unremarried Surviving Spouses.
All exemptions or discounts are applied for through the applicants local Property Appraiser.
Florida offers an exemption from business tax and any fees imposed under Florida Business Tax Statutes, Chapter 205 for eligible Veterans, their Spouse or Surviving Spouse and Spouses of Service members stationed in Florida.
The following are eligible for the exemption:
- Honorably discharged Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces
- The Spouse or unremarried Surviving Spouse
- An eligible Veteran Spouse of an active-duty service member stationed in Florida.
Illinois offers a $100,000 reduction in the assessed value of the residence used by a permanent and total service-connected disabled Veteran who received federal, state, or charitable organization financial assistance to purchase or modify a home to accommodate their disabilities.
The exemption is valid for as long as the Veteran, their Spouse, or unremarried Surviving Spouse resides on the property.
DVSHE provides a reduction in a property’s equalized assessed value of a property owned by a Veteran who has a service-connected disability.
The reduction is based on the percentage of the Veteran’s disability.
Illinois Disability Exemption Amounts:
- $2,500 exemption for a service-connected disability rating of at least 30% but less than 50%
- $5,000 for a service-connected disability rating of at least 50% but less than 70%
- Total exemption for a service-connected disability rating of 70% or more
This exemption is also available to the unremarried Surviving Spouse of a Veteran who received an exemption prior to their death.
Additionally, the unremarried Surviving Spouse of a Service member killed in the line of duty is exempt from all property taxes on the primary residence.
About the Author
Founder & CEO
Brian Reese is a VA benefits expert, author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned, and founder of VA Claims Insider – “The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”
His frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned for successfully submitting or re-submitting a winning VA disability compensation claim.
Brian is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims and has served more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.
His eBook, the “9 Secrets Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim” has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans.
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).