U.S. Still Paying Survivor Benefits Related To The Civil War

As part of a longer piece exploring the long term costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Huffington Post makes an interesting discovery:

_Civil War and Spanish-American War

There are 10 living recipients of benefits tied to the 1898 Spanish-American War at a total cost of about $50,000 per year. The Civil War payments are going to two children of veterans – one in North Carolina and one in Tennessee_ each for $876 per year.

Surviving spouses can qualify for lifetime benefits when troops from current wars have a service-linked death. Children under the age of 18 can also qualify, and those benefits are extended for a lifetime if the person is permanently incapable of self-support due to a disability before the age of 18.

Citing privacy, officials did not disclose the names of the two children getting the Civil War benefits.

Their ages suggest the one in Tennessee was born around 1920 and the North Carolina survivor was born around 1930. A veteran who was young during the Civil War would likely have been roughly 70 or 80 years old when the two people were born.

That’s not unheard of. At age 86, Juanita Tudor Lowrey is the daughter of a Civil War veteran. Her father, Hugh Tudor, fought in the Union army. After his first wife died, Tudor was 73 when he remarried her 33-year-old mother in 1920. Lowrey was born in 1926.

At that rate, we’ll be paying benefits related to Iraq and Afghanistan we’ll into the 22nd Century.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    A great many aged, widowered Civil War vets remarried to much younger women. When James Longstreet was 76, he married a 34-year-old. I’m not suggesting that all of these marriages were ones of convenience–I’m sure in a great many cases there was affection on both sides–but it was a pretty good deal for both parties. He got a caretaker, and she got an income after he died.

  2. Franklin says:

    With the improvements in healthcare and people’s improved longevity, it’s possible we’ll be paying into the 23rd century. Particularly if some 18-year-old out there right now fathers a child at 79 years old like Mr. Tudor did.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    But do we give comparable benefits to disabled children these days? The Civil War pensions varied over time, and the notion that a child who was not alive during the Civil War would receive a pension seems like Gilded Age pork that wouldn’t necessarily continue. The spousal survival benefit isn’t strange to me given the considerations CSK mentions.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    I don’t know whether they’re still operative now but 50 years ago there were federal scholarship programs available to the descendants—not just the children—of Union officers during the Civil War.

  5. CSK says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War still grants two college scholarships a year (merit-based) to descendants of honorably discharged Union veterans. The SUVCW is a federally chartered organization, but it’s not an arm of the federal government as far as I can tell.

  6. Dave Schuler says:


    I was going from a more than half century old recollection. We qualified so it was something that interested my dad in the interest of financing our education.

  7. Tyrell says:

    My father told me that a few years ago and I couldn’t believe it. He and others his age knew some real Civil War veterans! What an experience that would be! Just imagine.
    I can visualize it now: a small office deep in the basement of the “War” Department (now defense dept.) in Washington with one lonely staff person writing out a few checks per month (by hand!)
    drawing a salary of probably $65,000 a year.
    One question: Am I correct in assuming that these are relatives of Confederate soldiers?

  8. PD Shaw says:

    @Tyrell, I don’t think I’d assume that. The Confederate war widows were getting state pensions; I think one of the last had been forgotten by the state of Alabama, who assumed everyone was dead, until later when the Daughters of the Confederacy brought publicity to bear and the widow got her pension reinstated with backpay.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    One of the odder instances of Confederate pensions was the introduction of pensions for slaves that served the Confederate armies. North Carolina did so in 1913. Some argue it was a sign of genuine affection for slaves; others see it as a blatant attempt to rewrite history in furtherance of the myth of the faithful slave.

  10. walt moffett says:

    @PD Shaw:

    do we pay benefits to disabled children of veterans? Check out this VA link then mosey over to ssa.gov and read up on Childhood Disability Benefits. We’ll be paying our due to their families for a long time.

  11. PD Shaw says:

    Thank you, walt moffett for answering my question.