VA Survivors Pension (Formerly VA Death Pension)

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Benefit Fact Sheet


The Survivors Pension benefit, which may also be referred to as Death Pension, is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving Spouse and/or unmarried Child(ren) of a deceased Veteran with wartime service.



The deceased Veteran must have met the following service requirements:

  • For service on or before September 7, 1980, the Veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service, with at least one day during a war time period.

  • If the Veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally they must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty with at least one day during a war time period.young child hugging a tombstone in a veteran cemetery

  • Was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions.

Survivors Pension is also based on your yearly family income, which must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify.

While an un-remarried Spouse is eligible at any age, a Child of a deceased wartime Veteran must be:

  • Under 18, OR

  • Under age 23 if attending a VA-approved school, OR

  • Permanently incapable of self-support due to a disability before age 18

Your yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the Survivors Pension benefit. Learn more about income and net worth limitation, and see an example of how VA calculates the Survivors Pension benefit.

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, 2019)


If you are a...

Your yearly limit is...

Surviving Spouse with no dependent Children

$ 9,224

To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed 5% of MAPR


Surviving Spouse with one dependent Child

$ 12,072

To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed 5% of MAPR


(Add $2,351 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 for Survivors' Pension download and complete  VA Form 21P-534ez, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child and mail it to the Pension management Center (PMC) that serves your state.  If available, attach copies of dependency records (marriage & Children's birth certificates). You may also visit your local regional benefit office and turn in your application for processing. You can locate your local regional benefit office using the VA Facility Locator.

Additional Information

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

Department of Veterans Affairs Survivor and Eligible Dependents Webpage:

Improved Survivors' Pension Rate Table:

Document Review Date: 01 December 2019