Sunday, December 13, 2015

VA Claims Live on After Veteran Dies

VA Claims Live on After Veteran Dies
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 13, 2015

When civilians sit around talking, they have different conversations from what is talked about in the veterans community. At the DAV Christmas party we were talking about topics focused on veterans. From charities raising huge sums of money while passing it off as "awareness" to conmen charging veterans to files claims. Both make headlines all the time but what folks don't know all too often hurts veterans.

What is truthful is no longer popular to citizens but for veterans and families, it all matters. During the party we talked about the latest scandal to befall the VA. There is so much good they are doing, but no one has time to talk about it because we're fighting all the twisted tales of failures being passed off as new.

It has all been going on for decades yet Congress plays a shell game of hiding history with the media playing right along trying to figure out where the ball really is.

What has been bad is still bad, hardly improved because no one is accountable other that the person in the chair as head of the VA at the time. Thank God for C SPAN because they don't just record all the hearings, they keep them available online forever.

Members of Congress can run for re-election but they cannot hide from the wrath of veterans!

C Span House Veterans Affairs Committee and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee

One of the misdirection fact is focused on veterans dying waiting for VA Healthcare. What was not talked about are things that families needed to know if their veteran died waiting for their claim to be approved.

The headline was "307,000 veterans may have died awaiting Veterans Affairs health care, report says" but what wasn't in the reporting done were simple basic facts.

A veteran files a claim with the VA.

Sometimes the decision is acceptable and the service connection disability is taken care of as well as the compensation. Sometimes it is not acceptable with a low rating. Then the veteran can file an appeal. Appeals don't die until they are honored or the veteran gives up. There are no time limits as long as appeals are filed on time.
Once the DRO has made a decision or has received your request for BVA consideration, the VA will issue a “Statement of the Case” (SOC). This document will explain the VA’s decision(s) in detail. You have 60 days from the date of the SOC to file your substantive appeal to the BVA on VA Form 9.
If you miss the 60 days, then you have to go back to the beginning and open a new claim if your claim was totally denied. If you were granted a service connected disability it says as is. Let's say that you filed an original claim in 2001. The VA turned down your claim and you filed an appeal on time. By the time they honored your claim, the compensation would be prorated back to the date you filed the claim. The interesting thing is that a claim has no expiration date. You can file appeals as long as you want.

In some cases, new health issues pop up that are because of military service including the ones you may have had but were not considered "service connected" by the VA, as in the case of many illnesses tied to Agent Orange.
The U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides on trees and vegetation during the Vietnam War. Several decades later, concerns about the health effects from these chemicals continue. VA offers eligible Veterans a free Agent Orange Registry health exam for possible long-term health problems related to exposure.
If you are a family member, then you have benefits too.
The Veterans Benefits Administration offers a variety of benefits and services to spouses, children, and parents of Servicemembers and Veterans who are deceased or totally and permanently disabled by a service-connected disability
There is also another benefit for family members.
VA Death Pension Eligibility
You may be eligible if:
the deceased veteran was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, AND
he or she served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of war time. However, tech law requires that anyone who enlists after 9/7/80 generally has to serve at least 24 months or the full period for which a person was called or ordered to active duty in order to receive any benefits based on that period of service. With the advent of the Gulf War on 8/2/90 (and still not ended by Congress to this day), veterans can now serve after 9/7/80 during a period of wartime. When they do, they generally now must serve 24 months to be eligible for pension or any other benefits. AND
you are the surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran, AND your countable income is below a yearly limit set by law:
If a veteran dies while the claim is on appeal, families can keep the claim moving.
What happens if the veteran dies during the period of application?

If the veteran dies during the period of application and the application was not approved prior to the death, there may be accrued benefits. If the regional office had all of the information in its possession that would have led to an approval, then there is an accrued benefit payable. Otherwise there is none.

The full benefit is available up to the month of death of the veteran and to a surviving spouse through an application on VA Form 21-0847 (REQUEST FOR SUBSTITUTION OF CLAIMANT UPON DEATH OF CLAIMANT).

If a claimant dies while a claim or appeal for any benefit under a law administered by the Secretary is pending, a living person who would be eligible to receive accrued benefits due to the claimant under section 5121(a) of this title may, not later than one year after the date of the death of the claimant, request to be substituted as the claimant for the purposes of processing the claim to completion.
And for families of those who die while serving,
Death Gratuity Payment
Military services provide payment, called a death gratuity, in the amount of $100,000 to the next of kin of Servicemembers who die while on active duty (including those who die within 120 days of separation) as a result of service-connected injury or illness. If there is no surviving spouse or child, then parents or siblings designated as next of kin by the Servicemember may be provided the payment. The payment is made by the last military command of the deceased. If the beneficiary is not paid automatically, application may be made to the military service concerned.
You can find a lot more explained on that link.

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