Pension to Veterans Surviving Spouses, and Children


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

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
D - Direct Payments With Unrestricted Use
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.
Fiscal Year 2019 In FY 19, 185,379 Survivors received pension benefits. (FY20 est.: 166,882 Survivors; FY 21 est.: 161,325 Survivors)
Fiscal Year 2023 Fiscal Year 2023: Paid more than $1.1 billion in survivors pension benefits to more than 109,000 survivors.
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, FY 2024 Appropriations Bill, Title 38, Part 5303, 5303A, 5303B, 38 U.S.C. 1541-1543
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
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. 5303). A child must be unmarried and under 18 (23 if in school), or disabled before 18 and continuously incapable of self-support. (38 U.S.C. 1542) Pension is not payable to those whose estates are so large that it is reasonable they use the estate for maintenance. (38 U.S.C. 1543) A Veteran meets wartime service requirements if he/she served: o a total of 90 days or more during one or more periods of war; o 90 or more consecutive days that began or ended during a period of war; or o for any length of time during a period of war if they were discharged or released for a service-connected disability. (38 U.S.C. 1541, 5303A)
Beneficiary Eligibility
Qualified surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of deceased war-time Veterans who meet certain income and net worth limits set by Congress.
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.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is not applicable.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. An application (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 or download a copy of VA Form 21P-534EZ here. Applications are also available on-line at
Award Procedure
Awards are authorized by the Regional Office.
Contact the appropriate VBA Regional Office for application deadlines. A list of VBA Regional Offices (including contact information, operating hours & services provided) can be found at
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
The average days to complete for FY23 is 89 days. On average from 79 days to 122 days. Approximately 83% of Survivors claims completed in 125 days or less.
In the event of a denial or disagreement, a notification letter will advise of applicable review/appeal options, associated filing requirements and time limits.
Not applicable.
How are proposals selected?
Not applicable.
How may assistance be used?
No restrictions.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
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.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formula is not applicable to this assistance listing.

Matching requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.

MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
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.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
See Appendix IV of the Catalog for Veterans Benefits Administration field offices.
Headquarters Office
VBA, Pension and Fiduciary Service
1800 G Street
Washington, DC 20006 USA
Phone: (800) 827-1000
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Direct Payments with Unrestricted Use) FY 22$1,255,646,665.00; FY 23 est $1,178,018,969.00; FY 24 est $1,105,190,441.00; FY 19$1,716,516,000.00; FY 20 est $1,627,465,000.00; FY 21 est $1,653,903,000.00; FY 16$1,792,871,000.00; FY 17 est $1,859,608,000.00; FY 18 est $2,014,943,000.00; -
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
$11,102 annually, reduced by countable income for a spouse without children ($17,743 if in need of aid and attendance and $13,568 if housebound) and $14,529 annually, reduced by countable income, for a surviving spouse with one child ($21,166 if in need of aid and attendance and $16,989 if housebound). If more than one child, add $2,831 for each additional child. These rates were effective December 1, 2023 for Survivors Pension.
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.
Examples of Funded Projects
Not applicable.


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