Can I Get VA Survivor Benefits and Social Security?

Many spouses and children of veterans have questions about VA survivor’s benefits.  One of the most common type of survivor benefits is what is commonly known as DIC Benefits.

DIC stands for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.  In this article, I want to answer some of the most common questions that I get asked about DIC benefits.

Women helping little girl in the garden smiling at each other What do I have to prove to receive DIC benefits?

Certain survivors of a veteran can qualify for DIC benefits when a veteran dies as a result of a service connected condition or a condition.  This service connection can be demonstrated before or after the veterans death.

Also, certain survivors may qualify for DIC benefits regardless of the reason that the veteran died if the veteran had a 100% VA disability rating for 10 years or more prior to death.  In other words, it may not be necessary to demonstrate that the death was from a service connected condition in these cases.

For more general information about qualifying for DIC benefits, take a look at this short article.

Can I qualify for DIC benefits regardless of my income?

Yes.  There are no income limits on DIC recipients.  In other words, it does not matter how much money you make with this particular VA survivor’s benefit program

You could make a thousand dollars a month.  You could make ten thousand dollars a month.  You can still qualify for DIC benefits because this particular program is not based on income, needs, or assets.

Many survivors of veterans get confused about this issue because of a separate VA program known as survivor’s pension.  That program is based on your income and assets.  Because the DIC program focuses on whether a veteran died as a result of a service connected condition, DIC does not focus on the income or assets of survivors.

Can I get DIC survivors benefits and Social Security?

Survivors of a deceased veteran often receive some sort of payment from the Social Security Administration.  Some receive widow or widower’s benefits.   Some receive retirement benefits or Social Security benefits.

Sometimes, Social Security benefits are based on the earnings of the survivor.  Other times, the survivor draws them based on the veteran’s earnings.

Many survivors do not know that they can receive both DIC benefits and Social Security benefits at the same time.  They receive DIC benefits because the death is service connected and Social Security benefits for a separate reason (retirement, disability, etc.).

Since income does not matter for DIC benefits, receipt of Social Security benefits will not affect your DIC eligibility.  If you prove to VA that you are entitled to DIC benefits, you should draw your benefit from Social Security and your DIC benefit as well.

This is the way it should be.  Deceased veterans earned both the DIC benefit and the Social Security benefit through their work and their military service.

Is it too late for me to file for DIC benefits? Women on her phone with papers and a computer in front of her

Many survivors also have questions about how long they have to file an application for VA DIC survivors benefits.  I am happy to let you know that there is no deadline for a surviving spouse on filing.

It does not matter when your veteran died.  You can always still make an application for benefits.

Suppose your veteran served in Vietnam in the late 1960s and early 1970s then had a battle with cancer and died in the 1990s.  You could still apply now even though it is 20 years later.  If you show that your veteran’s death was from a service connected condition, you should qualify for and receive these benefits.

It is important to clarify that the “no time limits” rule really only applies to a surviving spouse.  If you are a surviving child, there are time limits that may apply.

Do I need an attorney to file for DIC benefits?

You do not have to have an attorney to file for VA benefits.  But, you probably want to talk to an attorney to make sure you file correctly.  Also, you will definitely want to talk to an attorney after you receive a decision.

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

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