The VA is a monolith of an institution. Thousands of employees work tirelessly to process claims and get veterans the help they need. Despite its size, the VA has a reputation for being slow moving and inefficient. Benefit claims can sometimes take years to be approved and paid out. When a veteran awaiting benefits dies before their claim is paid, their surviving family members may be entitled to their benefits.
The rules surrounding accrued benefits can be confusing. Surviving spouses, children and parents of deceased veterans should consider contacting an attorney familiar with VA benefits for guidance. A knowledgeable lawyer can be a great ally for families seeking benefits in days following the loss of a loved one.
Not just anyone can receive the benefits accrued by the veteran before their passing. Spouses are the primary beneficiary of accrued benefits. If no spouse exists, the deceased veteran’s dependent children may split the benefits equally. In circumstances in which the deceased veteran had neither spouse nor children, their dependent parents may receive the accrued benefits. Those who paid for the veteran’s funeral may also be eligible for reimbursement of those expenses.
Beneficiaries may seek accrued benefits if a claim for VA benefits was pending at the time of the veteran’s death. If benefits were awarded but not paid at the time of their passing, dependent beneficiaries are also likely entitled to them. There must be a pending or approved claim yet to be paid out by the VA to pursue an accrued benefit claim.
Substitution of Claimant
If a VA rating or decision has not yet been finalized, an eligible survivor may apply to be the substitute claimant for the veteran. The claim would proceed as if the veteran had not deceased and allows the beneficiary to act in place of the deceased veteran and continue with their original claim. They are also allowed to introduce additional claim-related evidence to the VA.
Applying for Accrued Benefits
Beneficiaries have the year after the loss of their veteran to apply for accrued benefits. To apply, VA form 21-534 should be filled out and sent in by the spouse, children or parents of the deceased veteran.
Compassionate Legal Representation
Though accrued benefits should be easy to claim and receive, the process is often confusing and stressful. In the period after the loss of a beloved spouse, parent or child, the survivors need time to grieve, not fight against the seemingly endless red tape of the VA. Veterans Law Group knows how difficult that time can be for surviving family members and can help ensure you and your loved ones get the support you need.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused by your rights after the loss of a loved one, reach out to Veterans Law Group for guidance. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to VA spouse benefits. To learn more about VA compensation rates, benefits for spouses and how to apply for accrued benefits, contact Veterans Law Group today.