Pension to Veterans Surviving Spouses, and Children

To assist needy surviving spouses, and children of deceased war-time veterans whose deaths were not due to service.

Agency - Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs strives for excellence in patient care and veteran's benefits for its constituents through high quality, prompt and seamless service to United States veterans.

Office - See Regional Agency Offices.

See Appendix IV of the Catalog for Veterans Benefits Administration field offices.
Website Address

Program Accomplishments

Fiscal Year 2016: In FY 15, 208,315 survivors cases received pension. FY 16, an estimated 201,330 cases. Fiscal Year 2017: FY 17, an estimated 201,390 cases. Fiscal Year 2018: FY 18, an estimated 201,390 cases.

Uses and Use Restrictions

No restrictions.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Unmarried surviving spouses and children of deceased Veterans who met the wartime service requirements or was a wartime Veteran who was receiving (or was entitled to receive) disability compensation at the time of death.

Veterans who entered service after September 7, 1980, must also have met the minimum active duty requirement of 24 months of continuous service or the full period to which the Veteran was called to active duty.

Veterans discharged on or after October 16, 1981, must have served for two years or the length to which called to active duty, if less than two years, or have a service-connected disability (38 U.S.C.


Income restrictions are prescribed in 38 U.S.C.

1541 and 1542.

A child must be unmarried and under 18, between 18 and 23 if in school, or disabled before 18 and continuously incapable of self-support.

Pension is not payable to those whose estates are so large that it is reasonable they use the estate for maintenance.

A Veteran meets wartime service requirements if he/she served: ? a total of 90 days or more during one or more periods of war; ? 90 or more consecutive days that began or ended during a period of war; or ? for any length of time during a period of war if he/she was discharged or released for a service-connected disability.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Low income surviving spouses and children of deceased war-time Veterans.


Military discharge certificate, marriage certificate, and birth certificate(s). Income and net worth must be limited as prescribed by statute. This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Preapplication coordination is not applicable.

Environmental impact information is not required for this program.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. An application (VA Form 21-534 or VA Form 21-534EZ) may be obtained from any VA office or regional office (see Appendix IV of the Catalog) and submitted to the regional office. Applications are also available on-line at

Award Procedures

Awards are authorized by the Regional Office.


Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.


Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 38 U.S.C 1541.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 120 to 180 days. On average from 73 to 187 days. Approximately 52 percent completed in 125 days or less.


Available. In the event of a denial, claimants are advised of appeal rights and procedures at the time of notification.


Not Applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no statutory formula. Matching requirements are not applicable to this program. MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Effective December 2004, entitlement may be established from the first day of the month in which the Veteran died if the application is received within one year of the death; otherwise, entitlement is established from the date of receipt of the claim. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: lump sum.

Post Assistance Requirements


Not Applicable.


Not Applicable.


None. A surviving spouse or child must promptly report a change in marital status and income. Additionally, a change in schooling for a child over 18 but under 23 must be reported.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Direct Payments with Unrestricted Use) FY 16 $1,792,871,000; FY 17 est $1,859,608,000; and FY 18 est $2,014,943,000

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$8,630 annually, reduced by countable income for a spouse without children ($13,794 if in need of aid and attendance and $10,548 if housebound) and $11,296 for a surviving spouse with one child ($16,456 if in need of aid and attendance and $13,209 if housebound) plus $2,198 for each additional child. These rates were effective December 1, 2014 for Improved Law Pensions.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

38 CFR 3.3. 'Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents,' Pamphlet 80-0-01, $5.00, available from Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. The stock number: 051-000-00-233-4.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Regional Agency Offices. See Appendix IV of the Catalog for Veterans Benefits Administration field offices.

Headquarters Office

Michelle Staton Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC 20420, Washington, District of Columbia 20420 Phone: 202-461-9700

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Not Applicable.

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