Dependents & Survivors Benefits

Bereavement Counseling

Veterans Affairs (VA) Vet Centers provide bereavement counseling to all family members including spouses, children, parents, and siblings of     servicemembers who die while on active duty. This includes federally activated members of the National Guard and reserve components. Bereavement services may be accessed by calling 202-461-6530.

Death Gratuity Payment

Military services provide payment, called a death gratuity, in the amount of $100,000 to the next of kin of servicemembers who die while on active duty (including those who die within 120 days of separation) as a result of service-connected injury or illness. If there is no surviving spouse or child, then parents or siblings designated as next of kin by the servicemember may be provided the payment. The payment is made by the last military command of the deceased. If the beneficiary is not paid automatically, application may be made to the military service concerned.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation


For a survivor to be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), the veteran’s death must have resulted from one of the following causes:

  1. A disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty while on active duty or active duty for training.
  2. An injury, heart attack, cardiac arrest, or stroke incurred or aggravated in the line of duty while on inactive duty for training.
  3. A service-connected disability or a condition directly related to a service-connected disability.DIC also may be paid to certain survivors of veterans who were totally disabled from service-connected conditions at the time of death, even though their service-connected disabilities did not cause their deaths. 

The survivor qualifies if the veteran was:

  1. Continuously rated totally disabled for a period of 10 years immediately preceding death; or
  2. Continuously rated totally disabled from the date of military discharge and for at least five years immediately preceding death ;or
  3. A former POW who died after September 30, 1999, and who was continuously rated totally disabled for a period of at least one year immediately preceding death.Payments will be offset by any amount received from judicial proceedings brought on by the veteran’s death. The veteran’s discharge must have been under conditions other than dishonorable.

Health Care Benefits

Under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), certain dependents and survivors can receive reimbursement for most medical expenses-inpatient, outpatient, mental health, prescription medication, skilled nursing care and durable medical equipment.

A surviving spouse under age 55 who remarries loses CHAMPVA eligibility on midnight of the date of remarriage. He/she may re-establish eligibility if the remarriage ends by death, divorce or annulment effective the first day of the month following the termination of the remarriage or December 1, 1999, whichever is later. A surviving spouse who remarries after age 55 does not lose eligibility upon remarriage.For those who have Medicare entitlement, CHAMPVA is secondary payer to Medicare. For additional information, contact the VA Health Administration Center, CHAMPVA, P.O. Box 469028, Denver, Colorado 80246, call 1-800-733-8387 or visit their website.