This blog was written by CDR (Ret) Chuck Neu, former Global SOF Foundation SkillBridge Fellow.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation recipients and non-compensable VA claimants, do you know what Dependent Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is and why it is SO VERY important to your dependents?
DIC is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military service-members who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
What does that mean to you?
Let’s say you have a respiratory condition that you acquired on active duty–as many of us do. If you die from that respiratory condition, your surviving spouse can receive DIC for the rest of their life. You and your spouse need to understand this, and need to create a “Death Packet” that contains your VA file, VA award, etc. so that’s ready for your spouse when you pass on. It doesn’t sound like the most appealing thing to do, but it’s important to ensuring financial security for your family.
There is a job for your spouse– if you do unfortunately pass– he or she must file the claim! Similar to our recent blog on VA Disability Rates for Dependents [link], this is an example of a non-automatic benefit that you must remain current and educated on. It’s important, because DIC is a monthly benefit that ranges between $1,500- $3,500–starting at $1,319 but with a variety of allowances for additional dependents, etc. See the rates on the VA website.
Make Sure Your Family is Taken Care Of
Remember, your compensable, and even your 0% rated disabilities that were acquired on active duty, MUST appear on your VA claim as “Service Connected.”
Here’s a scenario. Imagine that you die from a respiratory illness. It is listed on your VA claim but does NOT have the “Service Connected” caveat when in fact it should. Your surviving spouse and dependents would not receive DIC. This would be a travesty, and this is why you MUST OWN your claim and ensure both you, your spouse, and dependents are knowledgeable about VA benefits. Review your claim today. Are your disabilities correctly listed as “service connected” where appropriate?
Lastly, ensure your spouse knows what to do when you pass on and knows what benefits they are entitled to. At the very least, ensure that they know to PERSISTENTLY contact a Veterans Service Organization upon your death.