Remarriage Rules Relaxed for Surviving Spouses Seeking VA Benefits

Grieving widow in cemetery
(Adobe Stock)

A little-noticed provision in Public Law 116-315, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, makes it easier for surviving spouses to continue receiving Department of Veterans Affairs benefits if they remarry.

The law made changes to the remarriage rules for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Effective Jan. 5, 2021, a veteran's surviving spouse who remarries after the veteran's death will remain eligible for the benefit paid by the VA if the spouse is at least 55 years old. The remarriage must have occurred on or after that date.

Prior to this change in the law, surviving spouses who remarried before their 57th birthday lost eligibility for the benefit.

What Is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation?

DIC is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of certain deceased veterans, including survivors of:

  • Military members who died while on active duty
  • Veterans whose death was the result of a service-related injury or disease
  • Veterans whose death wasn't related to their service but who received VA disability compensation

The monthly tax-free benefit is currently more than $1,300.

To be eligible for DIC, the surviving spouse must have been married to a service member who died on active duty or married a veteran whose death was service-connected. There are other rules regarding when the marriage occurred, if there are children or if the marriage was terminated due to divorce.

See: Details about the dependency and Indemnity Compensation program

If the spouse remarries after the veteran dies, they can remain eligible for the benefit if the date of remarriage is on or after Dec. 16, 2003, and they are at least 57 years old.

Effective Jan. 5, 2021, that age limit dropped to 55.

The surviving children of a qualifying veteran are also eligible for the DIC benefit if they are unmarried and under 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school. Certain adult children who cannot provide for themselves due to physical or mental disabilities also can be entitled to DIC. Some surviving parents may be eligible for the benefit if they meet income limits.

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