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Survivors Pension Benefits

September 19, 2023

The aftermath of losing a loved one, especially a dedicated service member, is immeasurably difficult. Beyond the emotional void, families may face financial challenges that complicate their journey to healing. Recognizing this, the Survivors Pension program stands as a beacon of support for the families of deceased wartime veterans.

A program like this isn't just about financial assistance; it's a way to say, "Your loved one served, and we stand by you in their honor." As a way of easing financial strains for eligible surviving spouses and dependent children, the Survivors Pension Benefits provide unwavering national support for the legacy of service.

Let’s explore the key highlights and application process of this program.

Program Contact1-800-827-1000
Additional InfoApplication for Survivors’ Pension
Managing AgencyU.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Understanding the Survivors' Pension Benefits

United States veterans and their dependents can receive Survivors Pensions through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This program aims to provide a tax-free financial benefit to certain survivors of deceased wartime veterans. This program offers financial support to low-income survivors of wartime veterans.

Key Highlights

  • Tax-Free Financial Support: The VA pays a tax-free benefit to eligible recipients.

  • Financial Relief: The benefit helps support low-income, un-remarried surviving spouses and dependent children of deceased wartime Veterans.

  • Consideration for Medical Expenses: The unreimbursed medical expenses paid by the Veteran or the survivor may be considered, possibly reducing the countable income, thereby potentially increasing the amount of the pension or ensuring eligibility.

  • Special Provisions: Higher income limits may be considered for severely disabled surviving spouses or those with custody of the Veteran's dependent children.

Eligibility Requirements

The Survivors Pension is a tax-free benefit designed to provide financial support to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and unmarried dependent children of a deceased wartime Veteran. Here are the eligibility requirements you must meet to qualify:

1. Eligibility for Claimants

The claimant must be an eligible surviving spouse or child of a deceased wartime Veteran.

The claimant must meet specific income and net worth requirements.

2. Children's Eligibility

Children may be eligible if they fall into any of the following categories:

  • Under the age of 18

  • Between the ages of 18 and 23 and are enrolled in a VA-approved educational or training institution

  • Permanently incapable of self-support before turning 18

3. Wartime Service Requirements

The deceased Veteran must have served during one of the following wartime periods:

  • Mexican Border period: May 9, 1916, to April 5, 1917 (only for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or in adjacent waters)

  • World War I: April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918

  • World War II: December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946

  • Korean conflict: June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955

  • Vietnam War era: November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975 (specifically for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during this period or within its timeline)

4. Income and Net Worth Considerations:

The claimant must fall within specified income and net worth limits to qualify. There are provisions for higher income limits in certain situations:

  • If the Veteran was severely disabled

  • If the surviving spouse is severely disabled

  • If the surviving spouse has custody of the Veteran's dependent children

Medical expenses that have not been reimbursed and were paid by the Veteran might be eligible to reduce the Veteran's countable income. Similarly, unreimbursed medical expenses paid by the survivor might reduce the survivor's countable income, potentially influencing the amount of the pension or ensuring qualification.

Application Process

1. Online Application

Applying for this program has never been more convenient with the online application option. Interested applicants can apply online by visiting the official VA website.

2. Paper Application

Applicants have the option to complete a paper application using VA Form 21P-534EZ, which is titled "Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits." Once the form is completed, it should be mailed to the following address:

Department of Veterans Affairs Pension Intake Center
PO Box 5365
Janesville, WI 53547-5365

3. In-Person Application

For those who prefer an in-person approach or need assistance with their application, they can visit their local regional benefit office. There, they can submit their application directly for processing. To find the nearest VA regional office, applicants can use the provided tools or resources.

4. Contact for Questions

If applicants have questions or need clarification about the application process, they can visit the Ask VA (AVA) website and pose their questions electronically. Additionally, you can also call the VA directly at 800-827-1000. For those who use a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), they can call 711 for assistance.

By following these steps, eligible surviving spouses and dependent children can smoothly navigate the application process for the Survivors Pension. To ensure a hassle-free application experience, gather all the necessary documentation and information ahead of time.

Additional Online Resources

For further information and resources or to access various other VA benefits and services, individuals can visit the official VA website. The site provides information on both Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.

On this website, Veterans, service members, and their family members can engage in self-service transactions. Examples include checking the status of compensation and pension claims, enrolling in the GI Bill, obtaining copies of civil service preference letters, accessing military records like the DD214, and retrieving other personal information. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Survivors Pension?

Survivors Pension is a tax-free benefit provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for low-income, un-remarried surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of a deceased wartime Veteran.

2. Who is eligible for the Survivors Pension?

The claimant must be the eligible surviving spouse and/or child(ren) of a deceased wartime Veteran, who meets specific income and net worth requirements.

3. Can medical expenses impact eligibility?

Yes, unreimbursed medical expenses paid by the Veteran or the survivor can reduce the Veteran's or survivor's countable income, potentially making them eligible for the benefit even if their income is initially above the threshold.

4. Are there special provisions for severely disabled Veterans?

Higher-income limits might apply to the survivors of Veterans who were severely disabled.

5. Do I qualify for this benefit?

You can use the "Benefit Finder" tool on the Benefits.gov website to check your eligibility. This tool asks questions about your household and income to help determine which benefits you might qualify for.


The Survivors Pension Benefits serves as a tangible testament to a nation's unwavering commitment to its heroes and their families. Through the dark journey of loss, it's essential to remember that the sacrifices made by our veterans resonate beyond their time, shaping the freedoms we cherish daily.

Ready to explore further benefits tailored for military families? Dive in and discover how the GI Bill works for spouses. For more resources on veterans programs, check out American Veterans today!

Michael Blair contributes his expertise to help veterans access government benefits and resources. Through his informative articles and guides, he plays a vital role in empowering veterans and improving their quality of life.
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