Veterans receive several forms of support from the federal government during their lifetimes, and so do their spouses. After a veteran dies, his or her spouse may be eligible for a variety of benefits from the Veterans Administration, including financial aid, medical coverage, job training and bereavement counseling. By staying informed, spouses can make sure they receive the benefits they're entitled to.
An unmarried surviving spouse may be entitled to a VA pension. The pension is needs-based---you can't receive it if your income is above a government-set cap. It also requires the veteran to have put in a minimum level of active-duty service.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
A veteran's spouse may be eligible for a monthly Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefit under certain conditions, for example, if the service member died on active duty, as the result of a service-related injury or illness, or was receiving VA compensation. The marriage also plays a part: To be DIC eligible, couples must meet one of various qualifications, such as having married before 1957, being married for one year or having a child.
Education and Training
The VA offers spouses up to 45 months of educational benefits under the Dependents' Educational Assistance Program. This may include work-study programs that allow spouses to "earn while they learn."
The VA offers spouses bereavement counseling to help them deal with their grief. Spouses who've received military group life insurance may also be eligible for financial counseling.
Spouses without insurance may be eligible for the VA's Civilian Health and Medical Program.