(Orange, Texas)

December 4, 2012

Benefits available for veteran surviving spouse

Angela Johnson
Benefit Coordinator for Orange County Veteran Service Office

ORANGE — Common questions from surviving spouse of veterans is: Can I receive VA benefits from both 2 deceased vets; is there a discount for license plates, does my deceased spouse (veteran) benefits continue when he dies; can I draw two/three surviving spouse benefits at the same time …? The answer to all these questions is no.

There are 2 types of veteran widow benefits: Dependency Indemnity Compensation and Pension. This article will explain the difference of each element of veteran widow’s benefit.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is a non-taxable payment and can be drawn in conjunction with social security survivor’s benefits. This rate is usually $1195.00 monthly. However, this is based on a veteran’s service connected illness/injuries or (based on veteran’s pay grade) sustained while on active duty and was being compensated while still alive. If the veteran dies from a service-related, compensated injury the widow can receive a compensation and burial checks. A county veterans benefit coordinator can advise a surviving spouse on what type of benefit is due and this is free of charge.

Pension is based on the surviving spouse’s yearly income and the veteran must have served during a war time era. What Every Veteran Should Know or Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors, lists the eras recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs. If the surviving spouse income is $8219 or less, the Veteran Service Office can complete forms utilizing medical receipts to establish pension benefits. A widow with $0.00 income can receive $685.00 a month. If the widow does not have medical expenses and receives 685.01 a month in Social Security Survivor Benefits or Social Security (SSA/SSD) then she will not qualify for pension, unless she has paid medical expenses. This includes health insurance premiums, paid medical bills, over the counter medication, adult briefs for incontinence, wheelchairs, hearing aids…count as medical expenses. However, when filing pension it is recommended this be completed every quarter (3 months) so the surviving spouse will not owe due to decrease in medical expenses. If a surviving spouse has Aid and Attendance then she is required to have the person she is paying complete a VA form and a doctor to complete VA forms to show the needed care. (Surviving spouse cannot use medical expenses paid by Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance). This increases the cap from $8219 a year to 11,000 a year but only if the VA allows all the expenses.

All veterans are entitled to a flag and headstone. Burial benefits have specific qualifications regarding the receipt of burial benefits as listed above. (Future Article.) Surviving spouses should see the benefits coordinators at the local Veteran Service Office to determine whether veterans widow benefits are available to them.

Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors can be obtained from local Veteran Service Office.