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What Are VA Survivor Benefits, and How Long Do They Last?

Home What Are VA Survivor Benefits, and How Long Do They Last?

There are a number of benefits available for the spouse and unmarried dependent children of deceased veterans. An experienced VA disability attorney can help you understand if you qualify for these VA survivor benefits, how long they last, and can even provide services to help you access the benefits you are eligible to receive.

What Benefits are Available for VA Survivors?

There are several benefits available for survivors, not the least of which is the survivors’ pension. Here is a look at some of the benefits available for the survivors of wartime veterans.

Survivors Pension

Spouses and children of deceased veterans who entered active duty before September 7, 1980 and served at least 90 days on active duty military service with at least one day served during wartime, or veterans who entered active duty after this date and served at least 24 months with at least one day of active military service during wartime who meet certain income guidelines can be eligible for pension benefits. The wartimes currently considered for eligibility for the survivors pension include World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam War era, and the Gulf War.


The surviving spouse, child, or parent of a service member who died in the line of duty, or survivors of veterans who died from a service-related injury or illness can be eligible for VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Many individuals qualify for both a survivors pension and VA DIC, but they are only eligible to receive one of these benefits at a time. An experienced VA disability attorney can assist you in determining which benefit will be most useful in your situation.

Health Care

There are several ways that the surviving spouses and dependent children of deceased veterans can obtain health care benefits through TRICARE or CHAMPVA, including both medical treatments as well as prescription medications. We can help you explore healthcare options through the VA that are available for your family.

Education and Training

The surviving spouses and children of deceased veterans may also qualify for Chapter 35 education and job training benefits through the GI Bill. Eligibility criteria include the service member died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001; was missing in action or captured in the line of duty by a hostile force; or the veteran was permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected duty or died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability. Generally, if the veteran’s cause of death was a service-connected condition, then family members may be eligible for this benefit.

Home Loan or Financial Counseling

Surviving spouses may be eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility in order to obtain a VA-backed housing loan if the veteran is missing in action; is a prisoner of war; died while in service from a service-connected disability and the spouse never remarried before the age of 57 or before the date of December 16, 2003; or the veteran became totally disabled and later died, though the cause of death was not necessarily their service-connected disability.

Life Insurance Options

There are a number of life insurance options as well as financial and will preparation services available for qualifying surviving spouses.

Burial Benefits

Family members of qualifying veterans can apply for assistance with the costs of burial, cremation, and funeral services. These benefits are generally available for family members if the veteran died of a service-connected disability; died while under the care of the VA; or died while obtaining VA disability benefits. The burial benefits are not available if the service member died during active duty, while serving as a member of Congress, or while serving a sentence in federal prison. Benefits can include an allowance for burial and funeral costs, a VA plot or allowance for the cost of a plot, and a reimbursement for transferring the veteran’s remains to their final resting place.

How Long Do VA Survivor Benefits Last?

Pension and DIC benefits are available for as long as the family member meets eligibility criteria. They are not generally available to spouses who remarry or who are cohabitating with someone else who could be considered a spouse, except when the remarriage happens after a certain age. Chapter 35 benefits pertaining to education and job training are available for up to 10 years from the date of the veteran’s death or until surviving dependent children reach the age of 26. Other programs have their own specific time limits.

Let Us Help You Obtain the Survivor Benefits You’re Entitled to Receive

Our experienced VA disability attorneys are ready to explore the survivor benefits that are available for you and help you determine which benefits can help meet the needs of your family. We are a veteran-owned law firm with a deep understanding of the often complex eligibility and application processes involved with obtaining VA survivor benefits. We will do the legwork of helping you obtain the evidence needed to prove eligibility in these programs. For your free case review, contact us.