If you are the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from toxic exposure, you may be eligible for VA benefits — including monthly benefits through the VA Dependency and Compensation Program.
These benefits can provide much-needed financial assistance and peace of mind for those who have lost a loved one to a service-related illness or injury.
Thanks to historic new legislation called the PACT Act, VA has expanded the list of health conditions that VA believes are service-related.
That means the survivors of veterans who died from these conditions are now eligible for benefits. These newly covered conditions include all reproductive cancers, all respiratory cancers, all head cancers, and many other diseases.
In this blog post, we take a closer look at the PACT Act and its impact on VA benefits for survivors and loved ones of a toxic exposure.
We explain the VA Dependency and Indemnity Program and survivor eligibility requirements. We also provide a detailed list of newly insured health conditions and explain the process of claiming benefits.
Whether you are a survivor seeking support or an advocate for veterans and their families, this information can help you understand recent changes in VA benefits and how they will benefit you or someone you know can.
Surviving Spouse and Child Benefits: VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Program
If you are the surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a service-related injury or illness, you may be eligible for VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
DIC is a tax-free monthly payment that provides financial support to eligible survivors. The amount of DIC you receive depends on various factors, such as the veteran’s military service and the cause of death.
To qualify for DIC, you must meet certain requirements. You must be the surviving spouse, child, or parent of a veteran who:
Died while on active duty, or died from an injury or illness related to military service, or became completely and permanently disabled as a result of military service and died of any cause
In addition to the above requirements, you must also meet other criteria such as:
Be unmarried (unless you remarried after age 57) Be below a certain income limit Not have been dishonorably discharged from military service
If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply for DIC by submitting completed VA Form 21P-534EZ “Application for Dependency Compensation and Compensation, Death Benefit and/or Accrued Benefits” to the VA.
The application process can be complex and it is important to provide all the necessary documentation to support your claim.
The PACT Act expands the health conditions covered by VA benefits
The PACT Act (Providing Assistance for Veterans Exposed to Toxic Substances Act) is a historic law that expands the list of health conditions that the VA assumes are service-related.
This means veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their military service and developed certain illnesses may be eligible for VA benefits, including disability compensation and health care.
The PACT Act was signed into law in January 2021 after years of advocacy from veterans’ groups and lawmakers.
The law requires the VA to conduct a review of the scientific evidence on toxic exposures and health outcomes and to determine whether certain conditions should be considered service-related.
The law also provides funding for research into the long-term health effects of toxic exposure and establishes new rules for handling claims related to toxic exposure.
Under the PACT Act, the VA has expanded the list of presumed service-related health conditions for certain veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances.
These conditions include:
All reproductive cancers All respiratory cancers All head and neck cancers Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Chronic B-cell leukemia Hodgkin’s disease Multiple myeloma Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma Parkinson’s disease Porphyria cutanea tarda Soft tissue sarcomas (other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, or mesothelioma) . )
It is important to note that the expanded list of health conditions is not limited to these specific diseases.
Veterans who were exposed to toxic substances and developed other health problems may still be eligible for VA benefits but must demonstrate a connection between their illness and their military service.
Overall, the PACT Act represents a major step forward in recognizing and compensating veterans and their families for the long-term health effects of toxic exposure.
If you think you or a loved one may be entitled to VA benefits related to a toxic exposure, it is important to consult with a VA disability benefits specialist or other qualified professional to explore your options.
How to apply for VA benefits
If you are a surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from toxic exposure, or a veteran who was exposed to toxic substances during military service and developed a service-related disability, you may be eligible for VA benefits.
Here’s a general overview of the steps you can take to claim benefits:
Gather your documents: You will need to provide various documents to support your application, e.g. B. Military service records, medical records and proof of income. You may also be required to provide information about your spouse’s or parent’s military service, including service dates, branch of service, and discharge status. Determine your eligibility: Use the VA’s benefit eligibility tool to determine which benefits you are eligible for. You may also contact a VA disability benefits specialist or other qualified professional for guidance. Submit your application: You can apply for benefits online, by mail, or in person at a VA regional office. Make sure you provide all the information and documentation needed to support your claim. You can also track the status of your application online. Wait for a decision: The VA will examine your application and your documents and make a decision on your application. This process can take several months or longer, depending on the complexity of your case and the scope of the claims to be processed. Appeal if Necessary: If your claim is denied or you disagree with the VA’s decision, you may appeal the decision. You must provide additional evidence or arguments to support your claim. The opposition process can be lengthy and complex, so it is important to seek advice from a qualified professional.
It’s important to note that the application process can be complex and it’s easy to make mistakes or overlook important details.
Working with a VA disability benefits specialist or other qualified professional can help ensure your application is complete and accurate, and increase your chances of a successful outcome.
The PACT Act represents a significant step forward in expanding VA benefits for survivors and family members of veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their military service.
By adding new health conditions to the list of presumed service-related disabilities, the VA offers more support and recognition to those who have suffered the long-term effects of toxic exposure.
If you are a surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from toxic exposure or a veteran who developed a service-related disability as a result of toxic exposure, it is important to assess your VA benefit eligibility.
Learn more about the entitlement process and disability benefits.
If you’re interested in learning more about the claim process and disability benefits, be sure to read our The Road to VA Compensation Benefits e-book below.