A spouse and dependent children may be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) should a veteran die due to a service-connected disability or a condition directly related to a service-connected disability. In certain circumstances, survivors of veterans totally disabled from service-connected conditions are eligible for DIC even though a service-connected disability did not cause the veteran’s death.
Surviving spouses who are eligible for DIC may also be eligible for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits.
Veterans who have at least a 30% disability rating can add eligible dependents to their compensation benefits in order to receive a higher payment. Eligible dependents can include a spouse, children who are unmarried and are under the 18, between 18 and 23 and attending school full time, or who were seriously disabled before the age of 18, and in some cases, parents.
The quickest way to add a dependent is online through the veteran’s eBenefits account. You can also complete and submit the paper form available online on the VA website.
Generally, disability compensation is permanent but since not all medical conditions are permanent, neither is a disability rating. The VA can periodically review a veteran’s claim to check the severity of the service-connected disabilities. In such instances, the VA will request a review examination and the veteran will be notified of the re-examination by letter. The VA will also notify the veteran if it intends to reduce the disability rating. The veteran will be given the opportunity to submit evidence on his/her behalf and request a hearing. Once the review is complete, the VA will issue a decision either informing the veteran that his/her disability remains the same, that the disability has worsened and an increase in benefits is appropriate, or the disability has improved and benefits will be reduced.
If the veteran’s original disability award is at least 5 years old, there are specific requirements the VA must satisfy in order to reduce a veteran’s benefit.
If the veteran disagrees with the decision issued by the VA on the review, the veteran can file a Notice of Disagreement.
As of December 1, 2017, the basic monthly DIC rate is $1,283.11. Additional allowances are provided to the spouse:
a. Depending on the veteran’s disability rating and the period of time the veteran
was entitled to compensation at the time of his/her death;
b. For each dependent child under 18;
c. If the surviving spouse is entitled to Aid and Attendance benefits;
d. If the surviving spouse is entitled to Housebound benefits; and
e. If the surviving spouse has one or more children under 18 on the award, the 2-
year transitional benefit is added.
Individual Unemployability (IU) allows the VA to pay the veteran at the 100% rate even though the VA has not rated the veteran’s service-connected disabilities at the 100% disability level. In order to be eligible for IU, the veteran must have at least one service-connected disability rated at least 60% or the veteran must have two or more service-connected disabilities with at least one disability rated at 40% or more with a combined rating of at least 70%. The veteran must also be unable to secure or maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of service-connected disabilities.
In exceptional circumstances, IU can be awarded to a veteran with a lower disability rating.
The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) applies to cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims. The EAJA permits the veteran or the veteran’s attorney to apply to have the VA pay the legal fee if the veteran prevails in his/her appeal for benefits at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims level. To prevail, the veteran’s claim would have to be reversed or remanded by the Court.