Just to clear up a few things... VA pays two different types of benefit to the surviving spouse... To the surviving spouse of a WARTIME veteran VA will pay Widow's Death PENSION. This benefit is paid to the surviving spouse for a Non-Service Connected Death of a Wartime Veteran...it is Income Dependent, meaning that for every dollar in other income (including Social Security), the PENSION is reduced by one dollar. Annual medical expenses are reported to the VA pension center, and are used to lower the pensioneer's income for VA purposes and thereby increase the monthly pension amount up to the maximum which is (ARE you ready for this???) a WHOPPING $661.00 per month effective 12-01-2008. The second benefit VA pays to a surviving spouse is called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or DIC for short. DIC is paid to the surviving spouse of a veteran of ANY period (wartime or not) for a SERVICE CONNECTED DEATH. If the veteran's death was the result of an injury or disease incurred during active service and is found by the VA to be Service Connected, then DIC is awarded. DIC IS NOT income dependent, and the current basic rate amount as of 12-01-2008 is $1154.00 per month. Other factors affect both Widow's PENSION and DIC entitlement and amounts, which can change the amounts received, those shown above are only the BASE rate for each benefit.
On a final note, unlike Social Security, VA benefits are paid to the Surviving Spouse of the veteran only if they were still married at the time of the veteran's death. Divorce SEVERS all entitlement to benefits... An unremarried widow is entitled to benefits...a remarried former spouse or a divorcee IS NOT...period!
Hope this info helps.. remember... there IS a difference between PENSION and COMPENSATION where VA is concerned. People often try to use the terms interchangably, but in VA speak the terms have a vasty different meaning...PENSION = income dependency and requires WARTIME service; COMPENSATION = SERVICE CONNECTION, any period of service.

Semper Fi