Deadline nears for survivors of vets with ALS
to apply for retroactive benefits
The deadline for survivors of military veterans with ALS to apply for retroactive survivors benefits is September 23, 2009.
The following excerpts are from a Q&A article that appeared in a Paralyzed Veterans of America Minnesota Chapter newsletter and contains helpful information on how widows and widowers can apply for benefits approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs on September 23, 2008. This article also can be viewed here.
National Service Officer’s Report Tami Andersen
Survivor’s Benefits for Widows of Veterans Who Passed From ALS
Q. What are the benefits that a widow/widower can receive?
A. During an already difficult time for a widow/widower when their spouse passes away so quickly from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), there is some comfort to know that there are benefits from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) to assist them. When the primary or contributory reason for death is a service connected disability or disease; the widow/widower may be eligible for the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or DIC for short, benefit. The DIC benefit is a monthly monetary award that is paid the first of every month for the previous month of benefit. Currently that amount is $1,154.00; with an additional monetary benefit for dependents and/or the need for aid and attendance. Two other benefits are the burial and plot benefits. The VA currently will pay $2,000.00 to a widow/widower as a burial benefit and $300.00 as a plot allowance benefit.
Q. What paperwork is needed to submit a claim for DIC and Burial/Plot Benefits?
A. VA form 21-534 “Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child” will need to be completed. Along with the VA form 21-534; a certified copy of the veteran’s DD214 (discharge document), a copy of the death certificate of the veteran stating the primary and contributory reasons for death, and a copy of the marriage certificate will need to be enclosed. A VA form 21-530 “Application for Burial Benefits” will need to be completed; along with the VA form 21-530; an itemized paid statement/invoice from the funeral home and a statement/invoice for the plot cost will need to be enclosed.
Q. What is the time frame for filing a claim?
A. The law for service connection of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) became effective September 23, 2008. Therefore, if a veteran passed away from ALS before September 23, 2008, the effective date is September 23, 2008. Otherwise, when a surviving spouse submits a claim within one year of veteran’s death; the claim will be effective the date of death. If the claim is submitted after the one year period of date of death, the claim will be effective the date of claim.
Q. How to get started?
A. Contact your local Paralyzed Veteran’s of America National Service Officer (NSO) to set up a meeting to complete the paperwork. The NSO will need to have a VA form 21-22, “Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s Representative” completed by the surviving spouse in order to submit and monitor the claim on your behalf. Once the claim has been submitted, the NSO will track it through the VA process to be sure it gets completed in a timely manner and is accurate. Contact your NSO at 612-970-5988 or 1-800-795-3609 with any questions throughout and after completion of the claim.