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What is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)?

Published on July 11th, 2019

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, also known as DIC, is a type of benefit available to the family members of a deceased veteran. It’s often confused with the survivor’s pension, but there are important differences between the two benefits. The VA Survivor’s Pension (also called the Death Pension) is paid to dependents of deceased wartime veterans, but only if they demonstrate financial need. DIC benefits, on the other hand, are not limited by your income unless you are the parent of the deceased.

If your spouse or parent or child died while serving our nation’s military, obtaining DIC can help ensure your family’s financial stability. Sometimes, the VA will deny an initial application, but this does not mean that you should give up. With the help of an experienced veterans benefits lawyer, you may eventually obtain the justice you deserve. Call Jackson & MacNichol now at 800-524-3339 for a free consultation about appealing the denial of your DIC application.

How Does the VA Decide Who Is Eligible for DIC?

Your ability to receive DIC depends both on your relationship to the deceased veteran, and the circumstances of their death. First, we’ll look at the requirements for the surviving dependent. If you are a surviving spouse of a deceased service member, you must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Married to a servicemember who died while serving in the military
  • Married to veteran before January 1, 1957
  • Married to a veteran within 15 years of their discharge from the military
  • Married to a veteran for at least one year
  • Have a child with the veteran, and lived with the veteran until their death, or if separated, you were not at fault for the separation.

If you get married again, you are generally barred from receiving DIC, unless you remarried on or after December 16, 2003, and you had reached the age of 57 by that time.

If you are the surviving or adopted child of the deceased veteran, you must be unmarried and not accounted for in a surviving spouse’s DIC. Additionally, you must be under the age of 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school. Alternatively, benefits may be paid to a helpless child, a child who became permanently and totally disabled prior to age 18, which the VA reviews on a case-by-case basis. Surviving parents of the fallen soldier may also receive DIC, but only if they demonstrate a financial need.

The service member that you were related to must have served and died under one of the following conditions:

  • Died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training
  • Died from an injury or medical condition caused or made worse by their military service
  • Died from a non service related injury or disease, but was either receiving or entitled to receive veterans disability compensation for total disability for a certain time before their death.

Regarding that last condition, you will need to demonstrate that the veteran qualified for total disability payments for the ten years leading up to their death or for a continuous period of at least five years from their release from active duty up to the date of death. Alternatively, if the deceased veteran was a prisoner of war and passed away after September 20, 1999, you will need to show they qualified for total disability for at least one year preceding death.

A Veterans Benefits Lawyer Can Help You Qualify for DIC

The requirements for dependency and indemnity compensation are complicated. If you have any doubt about whether you should apply, or you have applied and you were denied, you should talk to a lawyer. Sometimes, you need to fight the VA to get the benefits you deserve, and at Jackson & MacNichol, we have a proven track record of helping veterans and their families appeal the refusal of their VA benefits and get justice. Call us today at 800-524-3339 for a free consultation about your case.


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