VA Death Pension

Regular Army: Active Duty

Benefit Fact Sheet



An un-remarried surviving Spouse or unmarried Children of a Veteran who had wartime service but whose death is not service-connected may still be eligible for monthly VA benefits known as Death Pension. The Death Pension is "needs based" meaning the award given to a surviving Family member is reduced by the amount of the survivor's countable annual income from other sources or assets.


Spouses must not have remarried and Children must be under age 18, under age 23 if attending a VA-approved school, or have been incapable of self-support before the age of 18. Pension is not payable to those with estates large enough to provide maintenance. The Veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and must have had 90 days or more of active military service, at least one day of which was during a period of war, or a service-connected disability justifying discharge for disability. A Veteran who enlisted after 7 September 1980 must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty.

If the Veteran died in service but not in line of duty, benefits may be payable if the Veteran had completed at least two years of honorable service. Children who become incapable of self-support because of a disability before age 18 may be eligible for a pension as long as the condition exists, unless the Child marries or the Child's income exceeds the applicable limit. A surviving Spouse may be entitled to higher income limitations or additional benefits if living in a nursing home, in need of aid and attendance by another person or permanently housebound.

Benefit Highlights:

Amount of Benefit Payable: VA pays the difference between applicant's countable income and the yearly income limit that describes their situation. This difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly payments rounded down to the nearest dollar. Refer to the following chart:

Income Limits (effective December 1, 2014)

If you are a...

Your yearly limit is...

Surviving Spouse with no dependent children

$ 8,630

Surviving Spouse with one dependent child

$ 11,296

(Add $2,198 to the limit for each additional child)

Housebound surviving Spouse with no dependents


Housebound surviving Spouse with one dependent


Surviving Spouse who needs aid and attendance with no dependents


Surviving Spouse who needs aid and attendance with one dependent


Surviving Child (no eligible parent)


Note: Some income is not counted toward the yearly limit (for example, welfare benefits, some wages earned by dependent Children, and Supplemental Security Income)

To apply, submit VA Form 21-534, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child to the Regional VA Office. If available, attach copies of dependency records (marriage & Children's birth certificates).

Additional Information:

For more information, please visit the Death Pension webpage maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs:

Department of Veterans Affairs Survivor and Eligible Dependents Webpage:

Improved Death Pension Rate Table:

Document Review Date: 10 February 2015