Mesothelioma Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Claims

When a veteran dies of mesothelioma, their surviving family members may qualify for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Claims for benefits offer lifetime, tax-free, monthly payments from the VA.

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Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Claims for Mesothelioma

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a type of benefit provided by the VA for eligible families of veterans after passing. Typically, if a veteran received disability and health benefits at the time of their death, their surviving loves ones would qualify for monthly compensation from the VA. However, family members must meet certain requirements to receive benefits from DIC claims.

As of December 2020, surviving spouses of veterans who died on or after January 1, 1993, receive a monthly payment of $1,357.56. Normally, the VA raises the rate each December to meet inflation rates. In 2022, DIC rates are expected to increase by 5.9% according to the Social Security Administration’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Rates for surviving children depend on several factors (such as marital status and number of surviving children). Surviving dependent children of veterans that didn’t have a spouse at the time of their death receive a monthly payment of $573.20. DIC payments are not automatic. Surviving eligible family members must file DIC claims for compensation.

Surviving dependent children between 18 and 23 years old in qualified education programs (when the veteran’s surviving spouse is also DIC-eligible) receives a monthly payment of $284.93.

DIC payments are not considered taxable income. Moreover, the compensation is not included in the value of the veteran’s gross estate.

How Long Do DIC Benefits Last?

Benefits payments from DIC claims last for the length of the surviving spouse’s lifetime. Dependent children who qualify can receive DIC payments until they’re 18 years old. Afterward, children can receive further payments until age 23 by attending a VA-approved school. Too, adult children unable to care for themselves are eligible for lifetime DIC payments.

Who Qualifies for DIC Compensation?

Often, the family members of a veteran who died of mesothelioma are eligible for DIC compensation. The mesothelioma must be service-connected. Usually, veterans linked their cancer diagnoses with their military service to receive or increase benefits from the VA. An asbestos lawyer can help you assemble the documents needed to prove a service connection for DIC claims and other VA benefits.

DIC compensation payments are available to eligible individuals like:

  • Surviving spouses who haven’t remarried
  • Surviving spouses who remarry after 57 years old
  • Unmarried, surviving dependent children younger than 18 years old
  • Surviving dependent children between 18 and 23 years old attending a VA-approved education program
  • Low-income parents of deceased veterans and current service members

In some cases, surviving family members may be eligible for payment from DIC claims and Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments. The SBP program is managed by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service at the Department of Defense–not the VA. The program is a voluntary annuity program veterans buy as a part of their retirement benefits.

Generally, you can’t receive full payments from DIC and SBP simultaneously (even if you qualify for both). Instead, SBP payments will be reduced by the “SBP/DIC offset.” Sometimes, you may have been overpaid from SBP and DIC and will have to pay the sum back.

Call the Defense Finance and Accounting Service at 800-321-1080 as soon as you’re eligible for payments from a DIC claim. The service will reduce your SBP payments, and you won’t owe for the overpayment.

Surviving Spouse Eligibility

Typically, surviving spouses qualify for the highest monthly benefit amount from the VA. Spouses meet eligibility requirements for DIC benefits if you:

  • Lived with the veteran or service member without a break until their death
  • If you were separated and not at fault for the separation

AND

  • Married the veteran within 15 years of their discharge from the period of military service during which the qualifying illness or injury started or got worse

OR

  • Were married to the veteran for at least 1 year
  • Had a child with the veteran

Added Amounts for Surviving Spouses of Veterans

If you’re the surviving spouse of a veteran who died of mesothelioma, you may qualify for added amounts with your DIC claim payments. Effective December 1, 2020, you may qualify for the following benefits. You may qualify for more than one added amount.

Requirement Benefit Added monthly amount
The veteran had a 100% disability rating for the previous 8 years you were married for the previous 8 years. 8-year provision $288.27
You have a disability and need help managing everyday tasks (such as caring for yourself) Aid and Attendance $336.32
A disability prevents you from leaving your house Housebound allowance $157.55
You have one or more dependent children under 18 years old Transitional benefit AND DIC apportionment rate $289.00 for the first 2 years after the Veteran’s death (transitional) AND $336.32 for each eligible child (DIC)

Remember, if you’re the eligible widow or widower of a deceased veteran, DIC claims result in payments that start at $1,357.56. For each added benefit, your monthly payment would increase by the benefit’s monthly rate. For example, a surviving spouse with 1 child under 18 years old who needs the help of a caregiver would receive monthly payments of $2,030.20.

+ $1,357 (base monthly rate)

+ $336.32 (1 dependent child)

+ $336.32 (Aid and Attendance)

= $2,030.20 each month

If you qualify for simultaneous Survivors Pension benefits, the VA will pay whichever amount is greater. Similarly, Survivor’s Pension payments are offered to eligible surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of wartime Veterans.

Filing a DIC Claim

Filing a DIC claim includes completing the appropriate VA form for your relationship with the veteran. Surviving spouses and children can download and fill out VA Form 21P-543EZ, “Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits.” Parents of a deceased veteran should fill out VA Form 21P-535, “Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation by Parent(s).”

Mail forms to the Pension Intake Center, get help from a VA regional office, or upload the form online.

Note: Eligibility for DIC claims is dependent on several factors concerning the veteran’s disability, your relationship to the veteran (such as how long you were married after the vet’s military service), your current marital status, if you lived with the veteran before his or her passing, and others. The VA uses these criteria to determine eligibility as well as your potential benefit amount.

A qualified mesothelioma lawyer can help you find and submit the necessary documents for DIC claims for your family. If the veteran’s mesothelioma wasn’t connected to their military service before their death, an attorney knows which records to acquire to link the illness. Also, asbestos lawyers can file other types of claims (such as an asbestos lawsuit) for compensation for the surviving loved ones of veterans.

Author: Destiny Bezrutczyk – Last Edited: November 30, 2021