From The Mailbag: Survivor Benefits for Veterans

December 04, 2012 | Kate Horrell

Slogging through the Department of Veterans Affairs many benefits and programs can be challenging, and the rules change somewhat regularly. Veterans or their survivors may find that they miss the piece of information that can help them. Fortunately, there are wide variety of resources to help ensure that veterans and their families are receiving the benefits to which they are entitled.

This week’s letter is fairly typical:

I am the widow of a veteran who passed from agent orange since his death I have become disabled. Sometimes I need assistance with meds and running errands. Do I qualify for more help from the VA? The amount I receive now is just a portion of what my husband would be bringing home if he were still alive.

PT

I hope that my answer was comprehensive, but even if it isn’t, I think I’ve pointed her to the experts:

Please accept my apologies for the loss of your husband. Without knowing what benefits you are currently receiving, I can not know if you are eligible for “more” help. The specific cause of death may be relevant. In addition, it may make a difference if your husband served until retirement, or if he left the service before reaching retirement.

Certain illnesses are assumed to be caused by a veteran’s service or exposure to certain situations. In the case of Agent Orange, there is a lengthy list of conditions which are considered “presumptive diseases.” If your husband’s death was caused by one of these diseases, the VA assumes that his death was caused by his military service.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has an Office of Survivors’ Assistance who should be able to help you ensure that you are receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled. In addition, many local governments employ Veterans Service Officers who help veterans and their survivors. Also, most veterans organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, offer services to help people like you.

Again, without knowing all the details, you may be eligible for a VA Survivors Pension, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, and a wide variety of other benefits.

I hope this helps point you in the right direction. Good luck to you!

Kate

Readers, any additional suggestions?¬† You are the experts!¬† Please, if you have experience or information, add it in the comments. You’ll be helping us all.

Comments

  1. caryn says:

    Hello my husband passed this dec 10 and I got his dec 31 check can I use that or cant I use it I am scard to toutch it. My money has not started yet they are working on it but he was serviced related death. caryn

    • Tony M. says:

      I'm very sorry for your loss. My wife and I just recently filled out our wills. If you have wills, there will probably be information regarding unpaid benefits. My recommendation would be to contact the legal office at your nearest military installation though. They would know the most.

  2. guest says:

    The last time we were down at finance they were talking to someone about this. Supposedly on active duty at least, they would be able to keep the rest of that months pay as bridge pay until life life insurance kicks in. Not sure if it's the same for disability/retired though