At the law offices of Attorney Sean Kendall, we are regularly contacted by surviving family members of recently deceased veterans who need help with Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) claims that have been denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you were the child or spouse of a veteran at the time or his or her death, you may qualify for DIC benefits from the VA. I hope this blog post helps explain the DIC application process, which we often successfully aid surviving family members in navigating.
As the VA’s official website states, “Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military service-members who died in the line of duty, or eligible survivors of veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.”
The evidence required to prove entitlement to DIC benefits includes proof that the veteran either died while on active duty (or active duty for training, or inactive duty training) or died from a service-related injury or disease after service. A third option for evidence of DIC entitlement is proof that the veteran passed away due to a non-service-related injury or disease but was receiving, or due to receive, a total disability rating from VA for service-connected ailments for at least ten years prior to death, at least five years immediately preceding the veteran’s death and continuously since the veteran’s discharge from active duty, or (if the veteran was a former Prisoner of War who passed away after September 30, 1999) for at least one year prior to death.
If you are a surviving child of a deceased veteran who met the above requirements and want to apply for DIC benefits, you must be 1) not included on the surviving spouse’s DIC application, 2) unmarried, and 3) either under 18 or (if you are between 18 and 23 years old) attending school. An adopted child may be eligible for DIC as well.
If you are a surviving spouse of a deceased veteran who met the above requirements and want to apply for DIC benefits, you must meet one or more of the following requirements:
1. Married to a service-member who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training (or)
2. Validly married to the veteran before January 1, 1957 (or)
3. Married to the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the veteran's death began or was aggravated (or)
4. Married to the veteran for at least one year (or)
5. Had at least one child with the veteran and lived with the veteran continuously until the his or her death or, if separated, were not at fault for the separation and not currently remarried
If you are a surviving spouse who remarried on or after December 16, 2003 and on or after attaining age 57, you may also be entitled to DIC benefits.
To apply for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, you must complete and sign VA Form 21-534, which can be downloaded here, and mail it to your VA Regional Office. If the veteran’s death occurred in service, you will need to complete and sign VA Form 21-534a and submit it to the Philadelphia VA Regional Office.
If you need help obtaining the necessary forms, or simply need help understanding the DIC process, please do not hesitate to call the offices of Attorney Sean Kendall today at 877-628-1712.