VA Provides Free Medallions
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a medallion, by request, to be affixed to an existing, privately-purchased headstone or marker to signify the deceased's status as a Veteran. This device is furnished in lieu of a traditional Government headstone or grave marker for those Veterans whose death occurred on or after November 1, 1990, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker. Once a claim for a medallion is received and approved, VA will mail the medallion along with a kit that will allow the family or the staff of a private cemetery to affix the device to a headstone, grave marker, mausoleum or columbarium niche cover. This benefit is only applicable if the grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.
Benefits After Death
After a veteran dies, he or she technically no longer has a claim to disability benefits. However, there are certain circumstances in which a widow, widower or surviving child may be entitled to accrued benefits, or money from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible contact your nearest VSO.
If you’re a surviving spouse or child, here are the circumstances in which you would be eligible to file for VA benefits:
1. There was a disability claim pending at the time of the veteran’s death.
2. A previously denied claim had new medical evidence in the VA claims file before the veteran died.
3. A claim of clear and unmistakable error (CUE) was pending at the time of the veteran’s death.
4. A veteran’s appeal on a denied disability claim was pending at death.
5. The claim must be filed within one year after the veteran died.
Service Connection Update
VA’s authority to grant medical care and disability compensation largely depends on statues that establish “presumptions” of a service connection for diseases related to exposure to biological, chemical, or other toxic agents at a particular time and place, such as the Republic of Vietnam during January 9, 1962, through May 7, 1975. The VA uses reports from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and other scientific information available to establish “presumption of service connection,” but that may be difficult to do when exposure data is lacking. Next, VA proposes a regulation regarding the basis of the presumption connection and defines the eligibility criteria. Absent a presumption connection, the individual veteran will have a hard time getting compensation.
One Way To Reopen A Claim
A veteran may reopen a finally adjudicated claim by submitting new and material evidence. New evidence means existing evidence not previously submitted to the VA. Material evidence means existing evidence that, by itself or when considered with previous evidence, relates to an unestablished fact necessary to substantiate the claim. New and material evidence can be neither cumulative nor redundant of the evidence of record and must raise a reasonable possibility of substantiating the claim. New and material evidence received prior to the expiration of the appeal period, or prior to the appealdecision if a timely appeal has been filed, will be considered as having been filed in connection with the claim which was pending at the beginning of the appealperiod.
Once a decision is made, if VA receives or associates relevant official service department records that existed and had not been associated with the claim when VAfirst decided the claim, VA will reconsider the claim. These records may include service records that are related to a claimed in-service event, injury, or disease; additional service records forwarded by the Department of Defense or the service department to VA any time after VA's original request for service records; or declassified records that could not have been obtained because the records were classified when VA decided the claim. This does not apply to records that VA could not have obtained when it decided the claim because the records did not exist, or because the veteran failed to provide sufficient information for VA to identify and obtain the records.