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A VA Survivors Pension offers monthly payments to qualified surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of wartime Veterans who meet certain income and net worth limits set by Congress. Find out if you qualify and how to apply.
If you haven’t remarried after the Veteran’s death, and if the deceased Veteran didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge and their service meets at least one of the requirements listed below, you may be eligible for this benefit.
Your yearly family income and net worth meet certain limits set by Congress. Your net worth equals the value of everything you own (except your house, your car, and most home furnishings), minus any debt you owe.
If you’re unmarried and you meet at least one of the requirements listed below, you may be eligible for this benefit.
At least one of these must be true:
Under current law, we recognize these wartime periods to decide eligibility for pension benefits:
Fill out an Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits (VA Form 21-534EZ).
Download VA Form 21-534EZ (PDF)
Mail it to the pension management center (PMC) for your state.
Find your PMC
Bring your application to a VA regional office near you.
Find a VA regional office near you
You can work with a trained professional called an accredited representative to get help applying for VA survivors pension benefits.
Get help filing your claim
It depends. We process VA Survivors Pension claims in the order we receive them, unless a claim requires priority processing.
Learn about VA Survivors Pension benefit rates. If you qualify for this benefit as a surviving spouse or dependent child, we’ll base your payment amount on the difference between your countable income and a limit that Congress sets (called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR).
Example: You’re a qualified surviving spouse with one dependent child. You also qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits. Your yearly income is $10,000.
Your MAPR amount = $17,586
Your yearly income = $10,000
Your VA pension = $7,586 for the year (or $632 paid each month)
We’ve recently changed the way we assess net worth to make the pension entitlement rules more clear. Net worth is the total of your or your beneficiary’s assets and annual income. You should report all of your net worth. The net worth limit to qualify for a Survivors Pension as of December 1, 2019, is $129,094.
Note: In the future, the net worth limit will increase by the same percentage as Social Security cost-of-living increases. We’ll update the limit here when there’s an increase.
When we receive a pension claim, we review the terms and conditions of any assets the survivor may have transferred in the 3 years before filing the claim.
If you transfer assets for less than fair market value during the look-back period, and those assets would’ve pushed your net worth above the limit for a VA Survivors Pension, you may be subject to a penalty period of up to 5 years. You won’t be eligible for pension benefits during this time.
Note: This new policy took effect on October 18, 2018. If you filed your claim before this date, the look-back period doesn’t apply. (A look-back period never includes a date before October 18, 2018.)
A penalty period is a length of time when a survivor isn’t eligible for pension benefits, because they transferred assets for less than fair market value during the look-back period. This may apply if those transferred assets would’ve caused the survivor’s net worth to be over the limit mentioned above. However, not every asset transfer is subject to this penalty.
If we determine you’re subject to a pension penalty, we wouldn’t pay pension benefits during the penalty period.
Date of cost-of-living increase: December 1, 2019
Increase factor: 1.6%
Standard Medicare deduction: Actual amount will be determined by SSA based on individual income.
|If you have 1 dependent child and…||Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $):|
|You don’t qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits||12,072|
|You qualify for Housebound benefits||14,116|
|You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits||17,586|
|You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits and you’re the surviving spouse of a Veteran who served in the Spanish-American War (SAW)||18,119|
|If you have no dependents and…||Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $):|
|You don’t qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits||9,224|
|You qualify for Housebound benefits||11,273|
|You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits||14,742|
|You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits and you’re the surviving spouse of a Veteran who served in the Spanish-American War (SAW)||15,339|
For qualified surviving children:
|If you’re…||Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $):|
|A qualified surviving child||2,351|