When should a Survivor of a Deceased Veteran apply for DIC?
I’ll answer that question in a minute.
Let’s quickly review what DIC is.
What is DIC?
DIC is a VA compensation benefit available to certain Survivors of Veterans
Its full name is “Dependency and Indemnity Compensation”, and is often referred to as “Service Connection of the Veteran’s Cause of Death”. Why?
Generally speaking, this benefit is available to surviving spouses and children of Veterans who pass away, and whose death is connected to service. There are generally 2 ways to prove entitlement to DIC Benefits.
One is the traditional type of DIC, and the other is its lesser-known “sibling”, Section 1318 DIC. Click here and I’ll tell you more detail about the 2 ways to prove entitlement to DIC.
When should a Survivor Apply for DIC?
The decision as to when a Surviving Spouse, Child, or Dependent Parent should apply for DIC is an important one: when you apply could affect the amount of benefits the VA might pay.
I strongly recommend that any eligible survivor apply for DIC benefits immediately after the death of the Veteran.
However, the law allows a survivor to apply any time after the death of the Veteran, with some significant limits on how much compensation can be recovered.
To recover the most in DIC benefits, the Veteran’s eligible survivor should apply for benefits within one (1) year of the Veteran’s death.
If the Veteran’s eligible survivor does this, he/she will be able to get the earliest possible effective date and receive benefits back to the date of the Veteran’s death – regardless of how long it takes the VA to grant the DIC claim.
If the application for DIC is not filed within the first year after the Veteran’s death, then the Effective Date of the DIC claim will be the date of the application.
If you didn’t apply for DIC in that year, though, that may not prevent you from recovering compensation back to the date of death. You might be able to argue that a claim for Social Security Death Benefits is also a dual-filing for DIC and/or accrued benefits.
In any situation where the VA grants a benefit, the Veteran and his/her spouse or eligible survivors should examine the Granting Decision to confirm that the VA established the proper Effective Date.
According to the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report on one VA Regional Office, that office had a 17% rate of error in establishing Effective Dates. This is not an uncommon occurrence.
The Veterans Survivors Benefits Handbook.
Veterans Surviving Spouses often know very little about the benefits available to them.
And, when a Veteran dies suddenly, surviving spouse is often left with so much to do that he or she doesn’t have time to research VA benefits.
When her husband (a WWII combat Veteran) died after returning home, she had 5 kids to raise. There was no internet and survivors had to rely on their local VA reps – who often told them that nothing was available.
I’m working on a book that will change all that.
The book is the Veterans’ Survivors Benefits Field Manual.
In the book, I will discuss the full range of benefits available to surviving spouses of deceased Veterans. This will include VA Dependency Indemnity Compensation, Accrued Benefits, Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA), and much, much more.
The book is not yet published, but if you would like to know when it will be published, click here and I’ll tell you how to find out when it’s published.