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Highlights

The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) program provides monthly payments to the survivors of those who died as a result of a service-connected disability or while on active duty in the military. In fiscal year 2008, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) paid over $4.7 billion to about 354,000 survivors, replacing a portion of income lost with the death of the veteran or servicemember. The Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the DIC program and the levels of payments it provides. This report addresses (1) the extent to which DIC replaces VA disability compensation or active duty military pay lost due to the death of a veteran or servicemember, and (2) how DIC benefits compare to benefits for survivors of civilian federal employees. GAO obtained and analyzed data on DIC payments, VA disability compensation, and military pay rates. GAO also obtained information on survivor benefits under federal employee retirement and workers' compensation programs. GAO did not include in its analysis other sources of income survivors may receive, such as Social Security, private pensions, and life insurance. Lastly, GAO interviewed officials from VA and groups representing veterans, servicemembers, and their survivors.

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