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Friday, October 29, 2010

Veterans’ Benefits: Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for Survivors

Christine Scott
Specialist in Social Policy

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers directly, or in conjunction with other federal agencies, programs that provide benefits and other services to veterans and their spouses, dependents, and beneficiaries.

One of the benefits administered by the VA is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for survivors of certain servicemembers and veterans. DIC is a monthly tax-free cash payment to survivors and dependents of servicemembers killed while on active military duty, and for survivors and dependents of certain veterans. Survivors of veterans who die from service-related conditions are eligible for DIC. Survivors of veterans who die from non-service-connected conditions may be eligible for DIC if the veteran was eligible for, or was receiving, disability compensation as totally disabled (a 100% rating) for a period of time (specified in statute) before the veteran’s death.

Several policy issues are associated with DIC, including the DIC offset of Survivor Benefit Plan (military retirement survivor) payments, often referred to as the “widow’s tax”; adequacy of the payments for survivors compared with other retirement systems payments to surviving spouses; the remarriage age of 57; length of time for a totally disabled rating for non-service-connected deaths to qualify for DIC; and maximum DIC payment for parents based on income levels that have not been adjusted for inflation.

This report outlines the eligibility requirements and benefit levels for DIC and related policy issues. Legislation has been introduced in the 111
th Congress related to the issues discussed in this report. Although none of the bills introduced have seen legislative action, an amendment (S.Amdt. 1515) to S. 1390 was adopted on the Senate floor. This report will be updated as needed for legislative changes and additional information.

Date of Report: October 18, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: R40757
Price: $29.95

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