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Survivors’ Pension


Survivors’ Pension, also known as the Death Pension, is a tax-free, needs-based monetary benefit provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to eligible surviving spouses and dependent children of deceased veterans with wartime service. The purpose of this benefit is to offer financial support to low-income survivors who have not remarried. The amount paid depends on the recipient’s annual income and other criteria set by the VA.

Key Takeaways

  1. Survivors’ Pension, also known as the Death Pension, is a tax-free, needs-based monetary benefit provided to eligible surviving spouses and dependent children of deceased wartime veterans.
  2. The eligibility for Survivors’ Pension depends on the deceased veteran’s wartime service, the surviving spouse’s marital status, and the family’s income level being below a certain threshold established by Congress.
  3. In addition to the basic Survivors’ Pension, supplemental benefits, such as the Aid and Attendance (A&A) and Housebound allowances, may also be available to qualifying individuals with additional needs and disabilities.


The term “Survivors’ Pension” is important because it represents a key benefit provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to support the families of deceased veterans who had served in the U.S.

Armed Forces.

This financial assistance, also known as the “Death Pension,” helps eligible surviving spouses and dependent children navigate the financial challenges that may arise following the death of their loved one.

By offering a monthly, tax-free payment, the VA aims to provide a level of financial stability to these families and demonstrate gratitude for the veteran’s service, highlighting the government’s ongoing commitment to caring for service members and their loved ones.


The Survivors’ Pension, formerly known as the Death Pension, is a vital element in providing financial security to the families of deceased wartime veterans. Its purpose is to offer a modest, yet essential, source of income for the surviving spouses and dependent children of these veterans, recognizing the sacrifices made by both the service members and their families in defense of our nation.

By delivering a tax-free monthly payment, the Survivors’ Pension ensures that the immediate family members of deceased veterans can sustain an acceptable standard of living, thus honoring the commitment and dedication of those who have protected our freedoms. Beyond mere financial support, the Survivors’ Pension also conveys a broader message of recognition, appreciation, and compassion towards the families of veterans who have passed away.

It serves as a tangible reminder of the ongoing commitment of the US government to care for those who have lost a spouse or parent in service to the country. Furthermore, the Survivors’ Pension provides additional support for surviving spouses and children in the form of supplemental income, should they need it for certain circumstances such as disabilities or education.

Ultimately, this VA benefit represents a compassionate and essential form of support, enabling the families of our nation’s deceased wartime veterans to move forward with dignity and security.

Examples of Survivors’ Pension

The Survivors’ Pension (also known as the Death Pension) is a monetary benefit provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to qualifying surviving spouses and/or dependent children of deceased wartime veterans. Here are three real-world examples illustrating how individuals may qualify for and utilize the Survivors’ Pension:John was a World War II veteran who passed away in

His surviving spouse, Jane, now struggles to make ends meet due to John’s loss of income and increased medical expenses. Jane applies for the Survivors’ Pension benefit, which helps cover her basic living expenses, medical costs, and other financial challenges she faces in the wake of her husband’s death.Mary’s father was a Vietnam veteran who unfortunately succumbed to a service-related illness in

At the time, Mary was 17 and still in high school. Since her father’s death had a significant impact on the family’s finances, Mary’s mother successfully applied for the Survivors’ Pension. This monetary support ensured they could cover the household’s living expenses until Mary was no longer considered a dependent child.Susan, age 55, is the surviving spouse of a deceased Gulf War veteran. She is permanently disabled and unable to work, leaving her with limited income. Susan applies for the Survivors’ Pension, which provides her with the necessary funds to afford her basic living expenses and medical bills, allowing her to maintain financial stability and independence even with her disability.

Survivors’ Pension FAQ

What is the Survivors’ Pension benefit?

The Survivors’ Pension is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to eligible surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of deceased veterans who served during wartime.

Who is eligible for the Survivors’ Pension benefit?

Eligible surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children under the age of 18, or under the age of 23 if attending a VA-approved school, can apply for the Survivors’ Pension.

How does one apply for the Survivors’ Pension benefit?

To apply for the Survivors’ Pension, the claimant must fill out VA Form 21P-534EZ and submit it to their local VA office along with supporting documents such as the veteran’s death certificate and military discharge papers.

How is the Survivors’ Pension amount determined?

The Survivors’ Pension amount is determined based on the eligible survivor’s annual income, which is reduced by certain deductible expenses. The pension is then paid in 12 equal monthly installments up to an annual maximum limit set by Congress.

Can the Survivors’ Pension benefit be changed or stopped?

The Survivors’ Pension benefit can be changed or stopped in certain cases, such as if the surviving spouse remarries, if a dependent child turns 18 or 23, or if the recipient’s income becomes too high.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Surviving Spouse Benefits
  • Dependent Children Allowance
  • Aid and Attendance (A&A)
  • Housebound Benefits
  • Death Pension

Sources for More Information