To receive Pension, a veteran must have served on active duty at least 90 days, during a period of war. There must an honorable discharge or other qualifying discharge. Single surviving spouses of such veterans are also eligible.
Only 1 of the 90 days or more of active duty service must have been during a period of war. Service in combat is not required. For veterans of the Gulf War, the service requirement is 24 months or completion of the requirement for active duty service – including discharge for health reasons – whichever comes first. Eligibility for Survivors Pension for surviving spouses or dependent children of a deceased veteran requires the same wartime service for the deceased veteran.
Here are the periods of war for eligibility. Even though 90 days of active duty are required, only one of those days needed to be included in the dates listed below.
Period of War
Beginning and Ending Dates
World War II
December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946
June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955
August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975; for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964, February 28, 1961 through May 7, 1975
August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation
If the veteran is younger than age 65, he or she must be totally disabled to receive Pension. Receipt of Social Security disability is adequate evidence for the total disability rating in this case. Medical evidence must be submitted for these types of applications. At age 65 and older there is no requirement for disability. For a single surviving spouse applying for a Survivors Pension benefit, the deceased veteran did not have to meet any disability or age requirements nor does the surviving spouse need to meet any disability requirements, regardless of his or her age.
Eligibility for Survivors Pension
Application should not be made unless it is certain that the surviving spouse meets the rules as a surviving spouse. All of these following conditions must apply or the surviving spouse is not eligible.
- The surviving spouse must have met the conditions to be married under VA rules. Generally, this means a marriage lasting at least one year or a child was born as a result of the marriage regardless of the length of time married. Under certain conditions, VA will also accept common-law marriages or marriages where the couple held themselves out to be married and can prove that was their intent.
- The surviving spouse must have lived continuously with the veteran while they were married unless they were separated due to the fault of the veteran. Evidence regarding such a separation will be required.
- The surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran when the veteran died.
- The surviving spouse cannot have remarried after the veteran’s death even if the surviving spouse is currently single. There is one exception to this rule. If the surviving spouse remarried after the veteran’s death and that marriage was terminated either through death or divorce prior to November 1 of 1990 and the surviving spouse has since remained single, that person is eligible. See 38 CFR § 3.55
- If the surviving spouse was married more than once and the most recent marriage was to a veteran who served during a period of war and that marriage ended in the death of the veteran, and the surviving spouse did not remarry, the surviving spouse is eligible for Survivors Pension based on this second marriage.
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