Am I Entitled to Survivor’s Benefits/DIC/Widow’s Benefits?

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

Both Social Security and VA provide for survivor’s benefits. The requirements for these two programs are very different, however. For Social Security, if your spouse dies you may be entitled to a survivor’s benefit equal to one-half of your spouse’s benefit. The cause of death does not matter, you just have to apply for the benefit.

For VA, though, the cause of death has to related to a service-connected condition. Or, if the veteran was rated 100% or received Individual Unemployability (IU)for at least 10 years, the cause of death can be any reason. The ten year period is a strict requirement; missing it by a day disqualifies the spouse from this benefit. There are other rules that may result in survivor’s benefits, but they are not usually applicable. The VA survivor’s benefit is known as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or DIC benefits.

An interesting wrinkle in DIC rules is that an application for Social Security survivor’s benefits is also considered as an application for DIC. This means that even if a surviving VA spouse does not specifically pursue VA, the spouse may possibly be awarded VA survivor’s benefits all the way back to the date of the Social Security survivor’s application. This is rarely the case, but sometimes these rules apply very favorably depending on the facts of the case.

If you have questions about Social Security survivor’s benefits or VA DIC benefits, please give us a call. We are here to help!