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

Program Accomplishments

In FY 07, 198,047 survivors cases received pension. The figures for subsequent periods are: FY 08, an estimated 200,317 cases; and FY 09, an estimated 198,949 cases.

Uses and Use Restrictions

No restrictions.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Unmarried surviving spouses and children of deceased veterans who had at least 90 days of honorable active war-time service or, if less than 90 days during war-time, were discharged for a service-connected disability.

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.

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.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Needy 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.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

An application (VA Form 21-534) 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.


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.


38 U.S.C. 1541, 1542, 1543.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Approximately 72 percent completed in 180 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

Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.

Post Assistance Requirements


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.

Eligibility verification requests are sent periodically.





Financial Information

Account Identification



(Direct Payments) FY 07 $828,121,000; FY 08 est $896,414,000; and FY 09 est $952,792,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$7,498 annually, reduced by countable income for a spouse without children ($11,985 if in need of aid and attendance and $9,164 if housebound) and $9,815 for a surviving spouse with one child ($14,298 if in need of aid and attendance and $11,478 if housebound) plus $1,909 for each additional child. These rates were effective December 1, 2007 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 Appendix IV of the Catalog for Veterans Benefits Administration field offices.

Headquarters Office

Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC 20420. Telephone: (202) 461-9700.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Not applicable.

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