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Death Benefit

If your spouse dies while in service, you will have many things to worry about, money is one we can help with right away. The Death Benefit is paid to a spouse or common-law partner and the dependent children of a Canadian Armed Forces member who died as a result of a service-related injury or illness.

About this program

When military families lose a loved one as a result of a sudden service-related death, there can be great suffering as the surviving spouse and children struggle to find their place in the civilian world.

Veterans Affairs Canada pays a death benefit to help ease that struggle.

The amount of this benefit is adjusted annually according to the cost of living.

Do you qualify?

The Death Benefit is paid to a spouse or common-law partner and dependent children if a Canadian Armed Forces member has died as a result of a service-related injury or disease provided the death occurred within 30 days after the injury occurred or the disease was contracted. If the death was more than 30 days after the incident, this support is provided through Disability benefits.

You should apply for the Death Benefit if you are the survivor or dependant of a deceased CAF Veteran.

A survivor is defined as:

  • the surviving spouse, who was, at the time of the member's death, residing with the member, or
  • the person who was, at the time of the Canadian Armed Forces member's death, the member's common-law partner (a common-law partner means a person who is cohabiting with the member in a conjugal relationship, having so co-habited for a period of at least one year).

A dependent child is defined as:

  • the child of a Canadian Armed Forces member (or of their spouse or common-law partner) who is under 18 years of age, or
  • under 25 years of age and attending school, or an adult but physically or mentally incapacitated and prevented from earning a living. In addition, the child must have been living in the home of the Canadian Armed Forces member to be considered a dependent child.

How to apply

When a Canadian Armed Forces member dies in service, VAC is usually notified by the military and we will contact you.

If you have not heard from us at the time of the member's death, please contact us. There is an application form for this benefit, but we can help you complete that form.

Apply online

If you are registered for My VAC Account, you can submit your application for this benefit online. If you aren't registered, you can register now.

My VAC Account

Mail or in person

Download the application form. Then, drop it off at a VAC office or CAF Transition Centre. You can also mail your completed application directly to the address listed on the form.

Go to form

Get help with your application

The staff at any VAC office or Transition Centre can assist you, or call us at 1-866-522-2122.

Additional information

Find out more

See the current rate for this program

Information for families and survivors

Related programs

Survivors Pension: Monthly financial support paid to the surviving spouse or common-law partner of a disability pensioner.

Funeral and Burial Assistance: Income-tested financial assistance when Veterans meet certain military criteria.

Income Replacement Benefit for survivors and children: A monthly payment for eligible survivors and orphans of a deceased CAF member or Veteran.

Bereavement Support: Support when Veterans or their families are dealing with end of life issues or bereavement.

Frequently asked questions

Is the Death Benefit supposed to function as a form of life insurance?

The death benefit is not designed to be life insurance. Instead, it recognizes the impact the death of a service member has on the functioning of their immediate family, including the permanent loss of guidance, care and companionship. It is paid in addition to the usual pension-related death benefits under the Canada Pension Plan and the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act.

If I apply for the benefit and get declined, can I appeal?

Yes. If you are not satisfied with a decision you may apply in writing for a review. Learn more about your review and appeal options.

Are there policies for this program?

Yes. Read more about the Death benefit policies.