The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to ensure that surviving spouses of deceased veterans are aware of an approaching deadline that may affect entitlement to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits.

Last year, President Bush signed Public Law 108-183, the “Veterans Benefits ct of 2003,” which restores entitlement to DIC and related home loan and education benefits for surviving spouses who remarry on or after their 57th birthdays. VA officials are concerned that surviving spouses may not be aware of this change in law, or may overlook this benefit if their subsequent marriages have not ended.

Generally, VA pays DIC to the surviving spouses of military service members who die while on active duty, and to surviving spouses of veterans whose death resulted from service-related causes. The basic monthly rate is $967 and is increased if the surviving spouse has dependents, is housebound, or meets criteria common to those who need a home aide. There are additional payments for dependent children.

Parents who were dependent upon the service member's income also may qualify for DIC. Under previous law, surviving spouses who remarried were not eligible for DIC unless their marriages ended. At that time they could apply for reinstatement of benefits.

Under the new law, surviving spouses who remarried after age 57 and before Dec. 16, 2003, have a limited time to apply for restoration of DIC - one year from the date the new law was enacted (Dec. 16, 2003). If VA receives the application later than Dec. 15, 2004, restoration of DIC must be denied.

The one-year application period does not apply to other surviving spouses whose remarriage on or after attaining age 57 followed enactment of the law.

For more information on restoration of DIC, call VA's toll free number at 1-800-827-1000 or visit the nearest VA regional office. Office locations can be found in the blue pages of local telephone directories. People who are hearing impaired should call VA at 1-800-829-4833 by use of a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD).