2023 Survivors’ Pension Rates

Updated: October 19, 2022

Table of Contents

    The 2023 survivors’ pension rates will see an 8.7% increase based on the Social Security Administration’s cost-of-living adjustment increase. 

    Survivors’ pension rates for 2023 are effective Dec. 1, 2022.

    Annual COLA increases determine the payout for several military and veteran benefits, including survivors’ pensions. See our COLA increase watch for the most recent updates on a 2023 increase.

    2023 Survivors’ Pension Details

    Effective date: Dec. 1, 2022.

    First paycheck: Dec. 31, 2023

    Veterans pension increase factor: 8.7%.Net worth/income limit: $150,538.

    Standard Medicare deduction: Actual amount will be determined by the Social Security Administration based on individual income.

    Maximum Annual Pension Rate: MAPR is based on how many dependents you have, if you’re married to another veteran who qualifies for a pension, and if your disabilities qualify you for housebound or aid and attendance benefits. MAPRs are adjusted each year for cost-of-living increases.

    The tables below show 2023 MAPR amounts, according to the VA. 

    2023 Survivors’ Pension Rate Tables

    For qualified surviving spouses with at least one dependent:

    If you have one dependent child and...Your MAPR amount is:
    You don't qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits$14,078
    You qualify for Housebound benefits$16,462
    You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits$20,508
    You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits and you're the surviving spouse of a veteran who served in the Spanish-American War (SAW)$21,129

    Notes:

    • The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/Minimum Income Annuity (MIW) limitation is  $10,756
    • If you have more than one child, add $2,742 to your MAPR amount for each additional child.
    • If you have a child who works, you may exclude their wages up to $14,076.
    • If you have medical expenses, you may deduct only the amount that’s above 5% of your MAPR amount ($703 for a surviving spouse with one dependent).

    For qualified surviving spouses with no dependents:

    If you have no dependents and...Your MAPR amount is:
    You don't qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits$10,757
    You qualify for Housebound benefits$13,146
    You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits$17,192
    You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits and you're the surviving spouse of a veteran who served in the Spanish-American War (SAW)$17,888

    Notes:

    • The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/Minimum Income Annuity limitation is $10,756.
    • If you have medical expenses, you may deduct only the amount that’s above 5% of your MAPR amount ($537 for a surviving spouse with no dependent child).

    For qualified surviving children:

    If you're...Your MAPR amount is:
    A qualified surviving child$2,743

    About VA Survivors’ Pension

    The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a Survivors’ Pension – previously called the VA Death Pension – to qualifying surviving dependents of military members with qualifying wartime service. Here’s who qualifies: 

    • Unremarried surviving spouses may be eligible if the veteran did not have a dishonorable discharge, and at least one of the following applies, according to the VA:
      • Began active duty on or before Sept. 7, 1980, and served at least 90 days on active military service, with at least one day during a covered wartime period.
      • Began active duty after Sept. 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 one day during a covered wartime period.
      • Served as an officer on active duty after Oct. 16, 1981, and hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months.
    • Surviving dependent children may also apply. These dependents may qualify for a VA Survivors’ Pension if they are unmarried and meet at least one of the requirements in the list below, according to the VA:
      • Under age 18, or
      • Under age 23 and attending a VA-approved school, or
      • Are unable to care for yourself because of a disability that happened before age 18.

    How Survivors’ Pensions Are Calculated

    If you qualify for a VA Survivors’ Pension, your pension payments are based ”on the difference between your countable income and the Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR,” according to the VA.

    The VA defines your countable income as “how much you earn, including your salary, investment and retirement payments, and any income you may have from your dependents.” 

    Some expenses can reduce your non-countable income, such as non-reimbursable medical expenses not covered by your insurance provider and educational expenses.

    Your MAPR is the maximum amount of pension payable to a veteran, surviving spouse or child. MAPR calculations are based on how many dependents you have. Another factor included in the calculations is whether you qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits. MAPRs are adjusted each year for cost-of-living increases.

    Net Worth Limits

    This VA benefit is subject to net worth caps. In 2023, the limit on net worth to qualify for a survivors’ pension is $150,538. Net worth includes both assets and annual income. All applicants must report this information. Some assets are not included in the calculation. According to the VA, these include:

    • Your primary residence
    • Your car
    • Basic home items such as appliances or other items you would leave behind if you move to a new home.

    VA rules state that in cases where a child’s net worth is more than the net worth limit, “we don’t consider them to be a dependent when we determine your pension.”

    When reviewing an application for VA pensions, the VA considers “the terms and conditions of any assets the survivor may have transferred” in the three years leading up to the claim.

    This may or may not affect your net worth and income calculations, depending on the circumstances. This is important because of a potential penalty period associated with this type of review.

    A penalty period is “a length of time when a survivor isn’t eligible for pension benefits,” because there was a transfer of assets “for less than fair market value during the look-back period.” 

    This period may apply in cases where the transferred assets would have “caused the survivor’s net worth to be over the limit.” 

    But, not every asset transfer is subject to this sort of penalty, the VA said. 

    If the VA determines you’re subject to a penalty, it will withhold benefits for a set amount of time. 


    How to Apply for Survivors’ Pension with VA Form 21-534EZ


    Glossary of Terms

    • A & AAid & Attendance – A&A is a benefit paid in addition to a monthly pension if you require the aid of another person to perform activities of daily living, or are blind or meet other specific visual acuity requirements. Patients in nursing homes because of physical and/or mental incapacities also qualify.
    • Child Earned Income Exclusion – Excluded earnings amount from a dependent child.
    • Countable Income – Includes income from most sources, as well as from any eligible dependents. It generally includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividend payments from annuities, and net income from farming or a business. Some expenses, such as unreimbursed medical expenses, may reduce countable income.
    • Death Pension – Intended to supplement the income of a surviving spouse or child who is in need of financial assistance and provide a minimum level of financial security.
    • Housebound – Qualifications: Single disability rated 100% and separate disabilities rated 60% or more (veterans only) OR Permanently housebound due to disabilities per 38 CFR 3.351(d) OR Hartness v Nicholson (2006) when pension has been granted based on the veteran being age 65 or older.
    • MAPR – Maximum Annual Pension Rate – The MAPR is the maximum amount of pension payable to a veteran, surviving spouse or child. MAPR fluctuates based on individual circumstances related to number of dependents and if Housebound or Aid & Attendance qualifications. The MAPR is reduced for each dollar of income that the veteran, surviving spouse, child or their families have.
    • MIW – Minimum Income Annuity
    • Net Worth – Net worth is the total of your or your beneficiary’s assets and annual income. Includes assets such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, and any property other than your residence and a reasonable lot area. The VA will determine whether assets are of a sufficiently large amount that one could live off of them for a reasonable period of time. Net worth limit will increase by the same percentage as Social Security cost-of-living increases.
    • Penalty Period – A penalty period is a length of time when a survivor isn’t eligible for pension benefits, because they transferred assets for less than fair market value during the look-back period. This may apply if those transferred assets would have caused the survivor’s net worth to be over the limit mentioned above. However, not every asset transfer is subject to this penalty.
    • Veterans Pension – Tax-free monetary benefit payable to low-income wartime veterans.
    • SBPSurvivor Benefit Plan
    • Survivors’ Pension – Tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased veteran with wartime service.

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