TIME RUNNING OUT FOR SOME SURVIVORS

From Joyce Wessel Raezer, Director, Government Relations, National Military Family Association. Forwarded by BGen Bob Clements

Deadline approaches for some re-married survivors to apply for benefits. Time is running out for certain surviving spouses of deceased veterans to apply for re-instatement of VA survivor benefits.

Last year, President Bush signed Public Law 108-183, the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003, which restores entitlement to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and related home loan and education benefits for surviving spouses who remarry on or after their 57th birthdays.

VA officials and military associations are concerned that surviving spouses may not be aware of this change in law, or may overlook this benefit if their subsequent marriages have not ended. Generally, VA pays DIC to the surviving spouses of military service members who die while on active duty, and to surviving spouses of veterans whose death resulted from service-related causes.

The basic monthly rate for 2004 was $967. It is increased if the surviving spouse has dependents, is housebound, or meets criteria common to those who need a home aide. There are additional payments for dependent children. Parents who were dependent upon the service member's income also may qualify for DIC.

Under previous law, surviving spouses who remarried were not eligible for DIC unless their marriages ended. At that time they could apply for reinstatement of benefits. Under the new law, surviving spouses who remarried after age 57 and before December 16, 2003, have only one year from the date the new law was enacted (December 16, 2003) to apply for restoration of benefits. If VA receives the application later than December 15, 2004, restoration of DIC must be denied.

The one-year application period does not apply to other surviving spouses whose remarriage on or after attaining age 57 followed enactment of the law.

For more information on restoration of DIC, call VA's toll free number at 1-800-827-1000 or visit the nearest VA regional office. Office locations can be found in the blue pages of local telephone directories. More information on benefits and services is available at VA's Internet Web site http://www.va.gov .