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Evidence to support VA pension, DIC, or accrued benefits claims

When you file a claim for Veterans Pension, Survivors Pension, VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), or accrued benefits, we review all available evidence (supporting documents) to determine if you qualify for benefits. Find out what the evidence must show and what documents you’ll need to support your claim.

Veterans Pension evidence needed

The evidence we need to decide your claim depends on the reason you’re applying for Veterans Pension benefits. Keep reading to find out what the evidence must show and what documents you’ll need to support your claim.

Note: What you’ll need to submit yourself depends on if you’re filing a standard claim or participating in the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program. You can get a faster decision if you turn in all your evidence at the same time as you file your claim through the FDC program. 

Find out more about the FDC program

Notice to Veterans

We’re required by law to tell you what evidence you’ll need to provide to support your Veterans Pension claim. For your convenience, the information here is a summary of evidence requirements (called “section 5103 notice”). You can find the official evidence requirements in the Application for Veterans Pension (VA Form 21P-527EZ). 

Go to the Application for Veterans Pension to get the official evidence requirements

Documents you’ll need to support your claim

You’ll need to submit or give us permission to gather these:

  • Your DD214 or other separation documents, and
  • Your service treatment records, and
  • Any medical evidence related to your illness or injury (like doctor’s reports, X-rays, and medical test results)

What the evidence must show

The evidence must show that you meet these 3 requirements:

Requirement 1: Your family net worth and yearly income meet certain limits set by Congress  

Learn about the net worth limit to be eligible for Veterans Pension benefits

Requirement 2: You meet one of these minimum active-duty service requirements

  • You started on active duty before September 8, 1980, and you served at least 90 days on active duty, with at least 1 day during wartime, or
  • You started on active duty after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least 1 day during wartime, or
  • You were an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, and before this date you hadn’t served on active duty for at least 24 months

Learn what wartime periods we recognize for pension benefits

Requirement 3: At least one of these is true about your current situation

  • You’re at least 65 years old, or
  • You’re permanently and totally disabled

You’re considered permanently and totally disabled if medical evidence shows that one of these is true:

  • You’re a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability, or
  • You’re receiving Social Security disability benefits, or
  • You’re unemployable because of a disability that you’re likely to suffer from for the rest of your life

Note: Your disability doesn’t have to be related to your military service.

For Aid and Attendance

The evidence must show that you meet at least one of these requirements.

At least one of these must be true:

  • You need another person to help you perform daily activities, like bathing, feeding, and dressing, or
  • You have to stay in bed—or spend a large portion of the day in bed—because of illness, or
  • You’re a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability, or
  • Your eyesight is limited (even with glasses or contact lenses you have only 5/200 or less in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less)

Learn more about Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound allowance

If you’re housebound

The evidence must show that you meet at least one of these requirements.

At least one of these must be true:

  • You have a single, permanent disability that’s rated as 100% disabling, and this means you’ll always need to be in your home or another living space most of the time, or
  • You have a single, permanent disability rated as 100% disabling and at least one other disability rated as 60% or more disabling

Additional forms you’ll need to submit

You’ll need to submit an Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance (VA Form 21-2680)
Get VA Form 21-2680 to download

And if you’re in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, you’ll need to submit a Request for Nursing Home Information in Connection with Claim for Aid and Attendance (VA Form 21-0779)
Get VA Form 21-0779 to download

Learn more about Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound allowance

The evidence must show that the child, before turning 18 years old, became permanently disabled and unable to support themselves because of a mental or physical disability.

You’ll need to submit all private medical records for the child’s disabilities.

Survivors Pension evidence needed

The evidence we need to decide your claim depends on the reason you’re applying for Survivors Pension benefits. Keep reading to find out what the evidence must show and what documents you’ll need to support your claim.

Notice to survivors

We’re required by law to tell you what evidence you’ll need to provide to support your Survivors Pension claim. For your convenience, the information here is a summary of evidence requirements (called “section 5103 notice”). You can find the official evidence requirements in the Application for DIC, Survivors Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits (VA Form 21P-534EZ).

Go to the Application for DIC, Survivors Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits to get the official evidence requirements

Documents you’ll need to support your claim

You’ll need to submit or give us permission to gather these:

  • The Veteran’s DD214 or other separation documents, and
  • The Veteran’s death certificate, showing cause of death

If you’re a surviving spouse, you’ll also need to submit: 

  • Your marriage certificate or other evidence showing you were married to the Veteran for at least 1 year immediately before their death, or
  • Evidence that you and the Veteran had a child that was born either before or during your marriage, or
  • Evidence that you were married before a fixed date based on certain wartime periods.

What the evidence must show

You’ll need to submit evidence that shows your family net worth and yearly income meet certain limits set by Congress. 

Learn about the net worth limit to be eligible for Survivors Pension benefits

You’ll also need to submit evidence that shows the deceased Veteran didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge and their service meets at least one of the requirements listed here.

At least one of these must be true of the Veteran’s service:

  • The Veteran entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980, and served at least 90 days on active duty, with at least 1 day during a covered wartime period, or

  • The Veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least 1 day during a covered wartime period, or

  • The Veteran was an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, and before this date hadn’t served on active duty for at least 24 months

Learn what wartime periods we recognize for pension benefits

If you’re a surviving child, you may be eligible for this benefit if you’re unmarried and you meet at least one of these requirements.

At least one of these must be true:

  • You’re under age 18, or
  • You’re under age 23 and attending a VA-approved school, or 
  • You can’t care for yourself because of a disability that happened before age 18

 

For Aid and Attendance

The evidence must show that you meet at least one of these requirements.

At least one of these must be true:

  • You need another person to help you perform daily activities, like bathing, feeding, and dressing, or
  • You have to stay in bed—or spend a large portion of the day in bed—because of illness, or
  • You’re a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability, or
  • Your eyesight is limited (even with glasses or contact lenses you have only 5/200 or less in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less)

Learn more about Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound allowance

If you’re housebound

The evidence must show that you need to stay in your home or another living space most of the time because of your permanent disability.

Additional forms you’ll need to submit

You’ll need to submit an Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance (VA Form 21-2680)
Get VA Form 21-2680 to download

And if you’re in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, you’ll need to submit a Request for Nursing Home Information in Connection with Claim for Aid and Attendance (VA Form 21-0779)
Get VA Form 21-0779 to download

Learn more about Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound allowance

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) evidence needed

The evidence we need to decide your claim depends on the reason you’re applying for DIC benefits. Keep reading to find out what the evidence must show and what documents you’ll need to support your claim.

Notice to survivors

We’re required by law to tell you what evidence you’ll need to provide to support your DIC claim. For your convenience, the information here is a summary of evidence requirements (called “section 5103 notice”). You can find the official evidence requirements in the Application for DIC, Survivors Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits (VA Form 21P-534EZ).

Go to the Application for DIC, Survivors Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits to get the official evidence requirements

Documents you’ll need to support your claim

You’ll need to submit or give us permission to gather any of these that are relevant:

  • Any service treatment and personnel records held by the Veteran’s National Guard or Reserve unit, and
  • Any of the Veteran’s relevant private medical treatment records, and 
  • Any of the Veteran’s treatment records held at a federal facility, like a VA medical center, that support your claim, and
  • Any evidence from a layperson (someone who’s not a trained professional) of chronic (long-lasting) symptoms of the disability

What the evidence must show

The evidence must show that one of these is true:

  • The Veteran died while on active duty, or 
  • The Veteran had at least one service-connected disability that caused—or is linked to—their death, or
  • The Veteran died from an illness or injury not connected to their service while they were receiving compensation for a service-connected disability rated at 100% disabling (keep reading to find out what additional evidence you’ll need to provide)

Additional evidence you’ll need to provide if the Veteran died from an illness or injury not connected to their service

We’ll need evidence that the Veteran received a 100% disability rating for a service-connected disability during one of these timeframes:

  • In the last 10 years or more before their death, or
  • At least 5 years after their release from active duty and before their death, or
  • At least 1 year before their death if they were a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999

 

The evidence must show that all of these are true:

  • The Veteran had an illness or injury that was caused by—or got worse because of—their active-duty service, and 
  • The Veteran had a physical or mental disability that either caused or is linked to their death, and 
  • The Veteran’s death is linked to an event, injury, or illness that happened during their service

 

The evidence must show that both of these are true:

  • The service member got sick or injured while training during active duty, and
  • The illness or injury either caused or is linked to their death

Note: If the service member received disability compensation for a service-connected disability, you may only need to submit evidence that it either caused or is linked to their death.  

The evidence must show that one of these is true:

  • The service member suffered an injury, stroke, cardiac arrest, or heart attack that either caused or was linked to their death during inactive-duty training, or
  • The service member suffered an injury, stroke, cardiac arrest, or heart attack during inactive-duty training that later either caused or was linked to their death

Note: If the service member received service-connected disability compensation for an injury, stroke, cardiac arrest, or heart attack, you may only need to submit evidence that it caused or was linked to their death.  

For active-duty training

The evidence must show that all of these are true:

  • The service member got sick or injured during active-duty training, and
  • The service member had a physical or mental disability that either caused or was linked to their death, and 
  • The service member’s death was linked to an event, injury, or illness that happened during their service

For inactive-duty training

The evidence must show that both of these are true:

  • The service member was disabled because of an injury, stroke, cardiac arrest, or heart attack during inactive-duty training, and
  • The injury, stroke, cardiac arrest, or heart attack caused or was linked to their death

 

The evidence must show that the Veteran died in one of these situations:

  • While receiving care at a VA hospital, or
  • While receiving medical or surgical treatment through VA, or
  • During a VA exam, or
  • During VA training

And one of these must have led to the Veteran’s death:

  • Something we’re at fault for, or
  • An event that wasn’t a reasonably expected result or complication of our care or treatment, or
  • Participation in a VA vocational rehabilitation or compensated work therapy program

Learn more about Title 38 U.S.C. 1151 claims

For Aid and Attendance

The evidence must show that you meet at least one of these requirements.

At least one of these must be true:

  • You need another person to help you perform daily activities, like bathing, feeding, and dressing, or
  • You have to stay in bed—or spend a large portion of the day in bed—because of illness, or
  • You’re a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability, or
  • Your eyesight is limited (even with glasses or contact lenses you have only 5/200 or less in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less)

Learn more about Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound allowance

If you’re housebound

The evidence must show that you need to stay in your home or another living space most of the time because of your permanent disability.

Additional forms you’ll need to submit

You’ll need to submit an Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance (VA Form 21-2680)
Get VA Form 21-2680 to download

And if you’re in a nursing home, you’ll need to submit a Request for Nursing Home Information in Connection with Claim for Aid and Attendance (VA Form 21-0779)
Get VA Form 21-0779 to download

Learn more about Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound allowance

Accrued benefits evidence needed

VA accrued benefits are back pay that we owed a deceased claimant at the time of their death. The deceased claimant could be the Veteran or a spouse, child, or dependent parent.

If you’re a surviving dependent and you’re eligible to continue the claim or appeal, you’ll need to submit evidence along with your application for accrued benefits.

What the evidence must show

The evidence must show that you meet both of the requirements listed here.

Both of these must be true:

  • We owed the deceased claimant payments based on existing ratings, decisions, or evidence that we had when the claimant died, but we didn’t make these payments before the claimant died, and
  • You’re the surviving spouse, child, or dependent parent of the deceased Veteran

Documents you’ll need to support your claim

You’ll need to submit or give us permission to gather both of these:

  • The Veteran’s DD214 or other separation documents, and
  • A copy of the Veteran’s death certificate, showing cause of death

If a representative of the beneficiary’s estate has been assigned, we’ll need a certified copy of the letters of administration or letters testamentary with the signature and seal of the appointing court.

If you’re submitting a reimbursement claim for the beneficiary’s last illness and burial expenses, we’ll need a copy of all billing and account statements for services and supplies connected to these expenses. The billing or account statement should be submitted on the regular billhead of the creditor.

The statement must show these details:

  • The dates, nature, and costs of services or supplies provided
  • The name of the deceased Veteran who paid for these services or supplies
  • Proof that the expenses have already been paid, and, if so, who made the payments

 

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Related information

VA benefits

  • Health care

    Apply for VA health care, find out how to access services, and manage your health and benefits online.

  • Disability

    File a claim for disability compensation for conditions related to your military service, and manage your benefits over time.

  • Pension

    Apply for monthly payments for wartime Veterans and survivors with limited or no income who meet certain age and disability requirements.

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