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.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Office: Veterans Benefits Administration
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Direct Payments with Unrestricted Use.
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.
38 U.S.C. 1541, 1542, 1543.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
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. 5303(A)). 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.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
None. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
Application Procedure
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 Procedure
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.
Approval/Disapproval Decision 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.
How are proposals selected?
Not applicable.
How may assistance be used?
No restrictions.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
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.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Not applicable.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Not applicable.
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
Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC 20420. Telephone: (202) 461-9700.
Website Address
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.
Examples of Funded Projects
Not applicable.


Related Federal Grants

Federal Grants Resources