New legislation could reduce ‘10-year’ rule for dependent compensation

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In an effort to revamp the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) program, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Senator Jon Tester introduced the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 1990) which DAV fully supports.

DIC is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military service members who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.

This bill would increase DIC for surviving dependents and would lower the threshold of eligibility to allow certain survivors to receive this benefit who currently do not meet the requirements. This measure would:

  • Increase DIC so that the base rate is equal to 55 percent of the rate of compensation paid to a totally disabled veteran, making it more equitable with rates provided to federal civilian employee survivors.
  • Ease the 10-year rule for eligibility and replace it with a graduated scale of benefits that begins after five years and increases by percentage until reaching the full amount at the 10-year mark. If a veteran is rated as totally disabled for five years and dies as a result of a non-service-connected cause, a survivor would be entitled to 50 percent of total DIC benefits. This scale continues until the 10-year threshold and the maximum DIC amount is awarded.
  • Reduce the age allowed for a surviving spouse to remarry and maintain their benefits from 57 to 55, consistent with other federal survivor benefit programs.

DAV Resolution Number 036—approved by members during the 2017 National Convention in New Orleans, La.—supports legislation to reduce the 10-year rule for DIC qualification to a more reasonable period of time.

“This issue affects many of our members and their families, so much so that we’ve made it a top legislative goal,” said DAV National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “We are hopeful this bill will ease the burden on many veterans and their family members.”