It is difficult to plan for the death of a loved one, especially one whom may be a hero in your family. When a Veteran passes away, Bergmann & Moore understands the pain and suffering for the loss. In a time of sorrow, it is important for surviving family members to know they may be entitled to benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) based on the Veteran’s disabilities. The name of the benefit is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), and it is usually paid to the Veteran’s surviving spouse.
According to VA, DIC is a tax free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of Veterans who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related condition. According to VA, the surviving family members of a deceased Veteran also include children and parents. Learn more details about DIC at VA’s web site.
As of December 2016, VA’s basic monthly rate for DIC payments was $1,257.95. The amount is tax free and paid to the surviving family member for the rest of his or her life.
Qualifying for DIC benefits can accomplished several ways:
Under VA rules, there is no time limit for filing a DIC claim. However, filing a claim soon after the Veteran’s death may preserve retroactive benefits. For example, if a surviving family member files a DIC claim within one year of the Veteran’s death, then the surviving family member is entitled to receive benefits retroactive to the date of the Veteran’s death. That’s why it is important to file a DIC claim as soon as possible in order to preserve retroactive benefits. One year of retroactive benefits is more than $15,000.
Understanding VA’s complex rules for DIC and then submitting all of the paperwork can be a challenge for surviving family members, especially when it comes to finding medical evidence of for a Veteran who has died.
Please read about how Bergmann & Moore was successful in winning a DIC case for a widow where a Veteran died due to a condition that is not on VA’s list of presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange.
Bergmann & Moore remains dedicated to helping surviving spouses and family members obtain DIC benefits from VA. If you are the family member of a Veteran who died and you filed a DIC claim that was denied by VA, Bergmann & Moore may be able to assist you with this type of complex claim. Please contact Bergmann & Moore for a FREE consultation
Agent Orange Exposure
One specific disease, Glioblastoma Multiforme, is a type of malignant brain tumor, often found in veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during service. However, VA has not yet acknowledged that these tumors are due to Agent Orange exposure and therefore they are not on VA’s presumptive list. Sadly, when a veteran passes away from a non-presumptive condition such as Glioblastoma, their surviving spouse is often unable to obtain benefits on their own.
Burn Pit Exposure
Bergmann & Moore recognizes that many veterans from the Gulf War era, Operating Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation New Dawn (OND), and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) may have been exposed to hazardous materials that were burned as a form of waste management.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) provides Veterans with five options on what to do when you receive a Board denial. In our experience there is only ONE reasonable option—appeal the BVA decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals to Veterans Claims (CAVC).
Dependency and Indemnity Claims
In the event a veteran passes away, their surviving family members may be entitled to benefits from the VA. Most commonly, this would be the Veteran’s surviving spouse. In order to qualify for DIC benefits, the surviving spouse must show that the Veteran died from a condition or illness related to the veteran’s military service. In some cases, veterans may have already been service connected for the condition that caused their death. In other cases, the surviving spouse is required to prove that the cause of death, if not already service-connected, was due to the veteran’s service.
Even veterans who aren’t rated 100-percent disabled may be eligible to be paid at the 100-percent monetary rate. VA awards individual unemployability, often referred to as total disability for individual unemployability (TDIU), when a veteran’s service connected conditions prohibit him or her from maintaining gainful employment. This benefit is separate from Social Security Disability Income.
Military Sexual Trauma
Military sexual assaults occur with both men and women and often go unreported. Many Veterans believe they do not qualify for Veterans’ benefits for military sexual trauma if they did not report the assault when it happened, but that is not true. There is no time limit for a Veteran to file a claim for a military sexual trauma, even if it is decades later.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), also referred to as posttraumatic stress or posttraumatic stress syndrome, is caused by experiencing a traumatic event. Even though the event has passed, many people continue to experience symptoms for months or even years afterward.
Once VA grants service connection for a disability, they then assign a rating based on the severity of the condition. The rating assigned correlates with a monetary amount to be paid monthly. In most cases, the veteran is compensated retroactively back to the effective date of the claim. This means that VA must pay the monthly amount for the disability for each month the claim was open, usually awarded in a lump sum, in addition to the monthly benefits going forward.
Veterans who were injured while in the military, or who aggravated those injuries while in the military, may be eligible for disability compensation. In some cases, compensation claims injuries are immediately obvious, such as when a service member is physically injured while on active duty. Other times, veterans don’t experience symptoms until many years after service, such as in the form of a mental health condition or cancer due to exposure of hazardous materials like Agent Orange, Burn Pits, or Asbestos.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
If a veteran sustains a head injury or full body injury during their military service, there may be longstanding effects known as residuals of a traumatic brain injury. Many veterans are unaware that they’ve even sustained a TBI because they didn’t lose consciousness during the event. Anything from a mild concussion to being thrown in an explosion may constitute a TBI.