Dear Sgt. Shaft:
After 18 years, 7 months and 25 days of service, over 20 years for pay purposes, I was in 1975, due to combat wounds, retired to the U.S. Navy’s P.D.L. (Permanent Disabled Retirement List) with a disability rating of 50 percent. I opted to receive payment from the V.A.
In 1982 I got married. Since then my disability rating has increased to 60 percent with individual unemployability and I am receiving CRDP (Compensation Retirement Disability Payments).
My question is twofold.
• Which, if either, of these sources if income would my wife be eligible for upon my death?
• If eligible, what must she do to receive any payments she may be entitled to?
Thank you for any information that you may provide.
Robert L. U.S.N. Ret.
Via the Internet
My sources provided the following answer to your questions:
Mr. L. indicated that he is currently in receipt of service-connected disability compensation and he is also in receipt of total disability based on individual unemployability. VA disability compensation terminates upon death of the Veteran. However, his spouse may submit a claim for death benefits, specifically Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), and subsequently receive benefits in her own right. As of December 1, 2008, the basic rate for DIC benefits is $1,154.00 per month, tax-free.
In order to be eligible for DIC benefits, the evidence must show that Mr. L’s death is related to his service-connected disabilities. DIC may also be granted if Mr. L was in receipt of, or entitled to receive, total service connected disability benefits for a period of 10 years immediately preceding his death. If DIC is not payable, VA death pension is also available for surviving spouses of veterans with service during a wartime period having low income.
To apply for VA death benefits, individuals should complete a VA Form 21-534, Application for DIC, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits, and submit this form to his/her local VA Regional Office (VARO).
For more information on VA death benefits, please visit VA’s web page online and go to Veterans Services, Survivor Benefits, or click here: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/dependents/spouse.htm.