The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced immediate actions to quickly identify and pay surviving spouses who are eligible to receive a one-time compensation or pension payment for the month of the veteran’s death.
"This benefit payment is long overdue to many of our beneficiaries,"
said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "In these difficult economic times, it is imperative that we take aggressive action to fix this situation for the families of our veterans."
Problems in VA’s implementation of a change in law that was effective in
resulted in some surviving spouses not receiving the veteran’s
compensation or pension payment for the month of death. This problem
was recently brought to VA’s attention by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka,
chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
immediately directed the formation of a special task force to identify
and pay the beneficiaries who never received the benefit or were
inadvertently required to repay the money issued for the month of a
Surviving spouses most likely to be
affected by this processing problem are those who never applied to VA
for survivors’ benefits following the death of a veteran.
task force is in the process of reviewing VA’s payment records for
veterans who died after December 31, 1996, and who are survived by a
spouse. The review will identify those to whom VA owes retroactive
benefits for the month of the veteran’s death. Current address
information is being obtained for as many of these beneficiaries as
possible. VA will begin issuing retroactive payments to eligible
surviving spouses at the end of this month. Payments will continue to
be issued as additional unpaid beneficiaries are identified and VA is
able to obtain current address information.
are deceased veterans for whom VA does not have marital status
information, a special Survivors’ Call Center has been established for
spouses who believe they may be entitled to this retroactive
Surviving spouses are encouraged
to contact the Survivors’ Call Center at the toll-free telephone
number, 1-800-749-8387. Call center agents will assist surviving
spouses in providing VA with the information needed to determine their
eligibility. The Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 7:00
am to 7:00 pm central standard time. Inquiries may also be submitted
through the Internet at http://www.vba.va.gov/survivorsbenefit.htm.