It can be challenging and stressful for the surviving spouse and family when a veteran passes away. The family might also be left wondering what will happen to the veteran's VA benefits on top of the loss. The surviving family members may still be eligible for benefits if the veteran passed away before their disability claim was granted.
This article will outline the steps a surviving claimant should take to obtain a deceased veteran's VA benefits if the veteran's disability claim was not already granted when he or she passed away.
Step 1: Obtain a Copy of the Death Certificate
The first step in claiming VA benefits as a surviving claimant is to obtain a copy of the veteran’s death certificate. This certificate will be needed to prove the veteran’s death and to determine if the veteran was eligible for any VA benefits at the time of death.
Step 2: Determine Eligibility for Benefits
Finding out if the veteran qualified for any VA benefits at the time of death is the next step. The claimant will need to ascertain whether the veteran had served during a time of war or had received a Purple Heart in order to accomplish this. The claimant must submit a Dependency and Indemnity Compensation application if the veteran was qualified for benefits (DIC). This compensation is given to qualifying surviving spouses and children of deceased veterans who were either:
fully disabled for at least 10 years owing to a service-related ailment prior to death, or
totally disabled for at least five years, with the last year immediately preceding death.
Step 3: Complete the Required Forms
The claimant will need to fill out and submit the following paperwork in order to be eligible for VA benefits:
Application for Death Pension, DIC, and Accrued Benefits VA Form 21-534EZ (if you’re the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran)
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation by Parent, VA Form 21P-535 (if you are the surviving parent of the Veteran)
Application for DIC, Death Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child VA Form 21P-534a
The claimant will also be requested to produce any further documentation that may be needed, such as birth certificates for dependent children, marriage certificates, and other records that may support the claim.
Step 4: Submit the Claim
The spouse can submit the claim to the VA after all the necessary paperwork has been filled out and the necessary proof has been acquired. To guarantee that the benefits are paid as swiftly as possible, it is crucial to submit the claim as soon as you can.
Step 5: Wait for a Decision
The claimant should anticipate hearing from the VA within 90 days of filing a claim. The decision will specify which benefits the surviving claimant is eligible for as well as whether the claim has been approved or denied.
The VA will start paying compensation as soon as feasible if the application is granted. If the claim is rejected, the claimant may file a Request for Reconsideration to challenge the ruling.
To sum up, applying for VA benefits as the surviving spouse or heir of a deceased veteran can be challenging. However, the claimant can successfully apply for the benefits that the veteran earned through their service to our country if they are given the correct information and direction.It’s important to gather all the required information, complete all of the necessary forms, and submit the claim as soon as possible to ensure that the benefits are received in a timely manner.