Many servicemember families rely on veterans disability benefits. When the veteran receiving those benefits dies, it can throw the family finances into turmoil. Veterans disability benefits do not survive the death of a recipient. However, a surviving spouse may be entitled to another form of benefits called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (or DIC). You should discuss these benefits with your New Orleans veterans disability attorney.
DIC is a tax-free monetary benefit provided to eligible survivors of deceased military servicemembers. It is available for spouses of veterans who died in action or died from a service-related condition. A surviving spouse is eligible for DIC if he or she was:
- Married to a servicemember who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training; or
- Married to the veteran before January 1, 1957; or
- Married the veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period in which the condition causing death began or worsened; or
- Married to the veteran for at least one year
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits are also available where the survivor had a child with the veteran and is not currently remarried. The survivor must have cohabitated with the veteran continuously until the veteran’s death. If the survivor and veteran were separated, the survivor must not be at fault for the separation.
Surviving children may qualify for DIC benefits if they meet certain eligibility requirements. Their benefits cannot be included with surviving spouse’s benefits. They must also be unmarried and under age 18 or between ages 18 and 23 and attending school.
Finally, parents of deceased servicemembers may be considered for DIC payments. The veteran child must have died in the line of duty. Or the veteran must have died as a result of a service-connected injury or disease.
The above criteria make it clear that many survivors of servicemembers are potentially eligible for DIC. If you have questions about whether you qualify, a New Orleans veterans disability attorney can help.
The VA expects that certain evidence will be presented for a potential beneficiary to qualify. According to the VA website, this evidence includes:
- The veteran died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training; or
- The veteran died from an injury or disease determined to be related to military service; or
- The veteran died from a non service-related injury or disease.
The veteran must have been receiving, or have been entitled to receive,
compensation for a totally disabling service-connected disability:
- For at least 10 years immediately before death, or
- Since the veteran’s release from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death, or
- For at least one year before death. This applies if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999.
Determining the sufficiency of the evidence can be straightfroward or more complicated, depending on the circumstances. In some cases the servicemember died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-connected condition. These are relatively simple.
The facts surrounding the servicemember’s death may make it easier to process the benefits application. For example, a death certificate may list the cause of death as one of the veteran’s established service-related conditions. In this event, the VA may grant eligibility without further review.
In other cases, the servicemember’s injury or disease was a contributing factor to his or her death. Here, the VA will likely presume the condition “substantially and materially” contributed to the death. The VA will then likely grant eligibility without further review.
There are cases where the condition that caused death was not determined to be service-connected when the veteran died. Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits may still be available, but processing the request may take more time. You should enlist the aid of a New Orleans veterans disability attorney in these circumstances.
DIC Benefits Are Complicated, But A New Orleans Veterans Disability Lawyer Can Help
The above guidelines are intended to give an overview of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. The actual process to apply and receive the benefits is much more complicated. If a service member in your family has died, you should consult a New Orleans veterans disability lawyer immediately. Certain deadlines may apply in your case, and you will want someone experienced with these benefits. You can count on the attorneys at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC to walk you the process. Give us a call today to set up a consultation.