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What should I know about veterans' benefits for survivors?

Taking care of your family is likely a top priority for you. For people who have served in the military and who meet certain requirements, the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefit is something their spouse or children might be able to apply to receive upon the service member's death. Our Texas readers might like to know a little about this program.

What types of veteran or service member deaths qualify for DIC?

There are very specific points relating to the service member's death that must be satisfied in order for a surviving spouse or child to get DIC. A veteran who dies because of an injury or disease that was related to his or her service in the military is one situation that meets the requirement.

A veteran who was eligible to get veteran's affair benefits because of a service-related injury, whether those benefits were being received or not, and died because of some other reason might meet the criteria under certain circumstances. The circumstances to meet this criteria vary, so seeking assistance to determine whether a situation meets the criteria might help.

A service member who dies during training or while serving active duty also meets the criteria for survivors to apply for DIC.

Can any spouse or child get DIC?

There are certain criteria that spouses and children must meet. Some of these depend on which of the death scenarios apply to a case. If a current service member dies during training or while on active duty, the spouse can qualify for DIC. Certain other conditions have to be met in the other instances. These include the length of the marriage, the habitation status and age.

For children to qualify for a DIC payment, the child has to be unmarried and not included in the surviving spouse's DIC. If the child has to be under 18 years old unless he or she is going to school. In that case, the child can be 18 to 23 years old.

The application process for DIC can be rather involved, especially when you consider the proofs and evidence that might be required. Getting help to get through the process might take some stress of the spouse who is learning how to live without his or her loved one.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, "Dependency and Indemnity Compensation" Oct. 29, 2014

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