Survivor’s Pension -- The VA pension system for veterans is designed to supplement the income of a disabled veteran who served during a period of war, but that veteran may not have incurred an injury or disease while serving in the military. In effect, it supplements a veteran’s income to keep that veteran from abject poverty. (For more on pensions, click here.)
In the same way, a veteran’s survivors may be eligible for a pension program that, in a way, serves the same purpose. If a survivor’s income exceeds a certain level, then the survivor is not entitled to the pension. If the survivor’s income is below the threshold, then the survivor may be entitled to some financial relief. That certain threshold of income, however, is different depending on the survivor’s health and circumstances. If the survivor is housebound or in need of aid and attendance, then the pension system will help keep the survivor at a higher level of income to help offset some of the expenses necessary for the higher level of care.
Health care for the elderly who are housebound or in need of aid and attendance (such as a veteran’s survivor who needs assisted living care, nursing home care, or rehabilitation) is expensive. In 2017, the average assisted living facility in Indiana charged $4,025.00 per month. Nursing home care averaged $7,817.00 per month for a private room. The cost of caring for elderly veterans and their surviving spouses is high, and a pension can sometimes help defray some of those costs. In other circumstances, a VA survivor’s pension is not enough and Medicaid is necessary. For more information on how Drew aims for results in the Medicaid system, visit this page.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation -- The VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation program is intended to indemnify a veteran’s surviving spouse, child, or parent when the veteran died because of an injury or disease that was incurred during service. Unfortunately, many spouses of Vietnam Veterans are eligible for this benefit as a result of cancers caused by tactical herbicides used in Vietnam – i.e., Agent Orange. The long-term, latent impact of exposure to these chemicals has included various cancers such as bone cancer (Multiple Myeloma), lymphoma, and prostate cancer, among other diseases. Sometimes these cancers are fatal, and the surviving spouse is entitled to indemnification because the herbicide exposure from the Vietnam War ultimately caused the veteran’s death. If you have questions about DIC benefits, then do not hesitate to call.
Accrued Benefits – An eligible survivor can become a substitute for the veteran when a veteran dies while a claim is pending. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon due to the lengthy delays in the VA appeals system. Although the VA is implementing a new law for processing appeals, called the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP), the delays still easily exceed two years. For more information on the RAMP, please see the entry on the blog page (can we put a link here?) When an eligible survivor substitutes for the veteran, then that survivor becomes entitled to any benefits that had accrued prior to the veterans death. In some instances, these benefits can be substantial. This is especially true if the claim that was pending involved a disease or injury that caused the death of the veteran. When this occurs, not only are accrued benefits involved, but DIC benefits also become part of the litigation. If you have questions about accrued benefits, then do not hesitate to schedule a phone call.