When a service member becomes disabled due to a service-related injury or illness and is honorably discharged, he receives disability compensation from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The specific amount varies depending on the level of disability, but he receives additional compensation for his wife and any other dependents. When the veteran passes away, his widow may not continue to collect his disability compensation payments. However, she is eligible for other compensation that replaces her husband's check.
Widows receive monthly Dependency and Indemnity Compensation if their husband's death was related to his disability, he was totally disabled for the 10 years prior to death or was totally disabled at the time of discharge and for at least five years prior to death. As of 2011, widows whose husbands died after 1993 receive $1,154 per month with additional money for any dependents.
A death pension is available to low-income widow who have not re-married. As of 2011, widows receive up to $7,933 per year. If the widow is permanently housebound she may receive up to $9,696 per year and up to $12,681 per year if she needs regular assistance. If the widow has dependents, she receives additional money.
When a veteran is discharged he has up to one year and 120 days to convert his Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) into a Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI) policy. The VGLI policy may cover the amount covered in the SGLI policy up to $400,000. When the veteran passes away, the widow will receive the funds from the policy to help cover her expenses.
Since they will no longer receive their husband's disability compensation check, widows must apply for DIC and death pension using VA Form 21-534. The application must include a copy of the service members death certificate, household financial information and a list of any dependents. Life insurance claims also require a copy of the death certificate. The Office of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance handles these claims.
- Department of Veterans Affairs: Disability Compensation
- Department of Veterans Affairs: Dependents and Survivors Benefits
- Department of Veterans Affairs: Spouse Benefits Death After Active Service
- Department of Veterans Affairs: Filing a VGLA Claim
- Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans' Group Life Insurance