Caring for Survivors After Tragedy Strikes

(BPT) – When you lose a spouse in the line of duty, your world is turned upside down. From the first anniversary spent alone and the first birthday with no one to celebrate, to the first time you check the box marked “widow.” Monica Frost is all too familiar with these moments. She lost her husband, Frank, an Army veteran who survived two tours in Iraq.

Like many survivors, not only was Monica faced with incomprehensible heartbreak and grief over the loss of her partner, she was also met with financial hardship. “No one prepares you for your husband’s funeral, but they really do not prepare you for what comes next,” said Monica. There were funeral costs, a mortgage, and bills to pay with one less source of income for support. As the widow of a veteran, Monica thought she was entitled to survivor benefits. But she had no idea which benefits she was eligible to receive or how to get them from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The unfortunate truth is that survivors are often faced with seemingly impossible hurdles when trying to access benefits to help with basic needs, like a roof over their head and food on the table. Legislation put in place, like the 10-Year Rule and the Remarriage Age, have left many veterans’ survivors by the wayside with no support or guidance on how to face their new reality and avoid poverty.

Luckily for Monica, she found DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a nonprofit charity that helps more than one million veterans and their families in positive, life-changing ways each year, all at no cost. Working with a DAV Benefits Advocate, Monica was able to secure the veterans’ survivor benefits she and her husband earned as part of his service.

The most crucial benefit Monica secured was Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). DIC is paid monthly to the surviving spouse to protect against spousal impoverishment after the loss of their loved one. Along with obtaining her DIC, Monica was granted ancillary benefits to cover the costs of her husband’s funeral.

DIC and ancillary benefits are not the only benefits survivors, like Monica, have access to. Other benefits include:

  • Death Pension: a monthly benefit paid to a surviving spouse with honorable wartime service whose death was unrelated to their time served.
  • Survivor Benefit Plan: an insurance plan the deceased veteran elected upon retirement from military service.
  • Fry Scholarship: provides post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to eligible survivors to attend school for up to 36 months at full scholarship.

Monica was able to access benefits that have helped to relieve some of the financial burdens following her loss. If you or someone you know is struggling to access survivor benefits, please go to www.dav.org to get the help you deserve.

The law office of elder law attorney Scott C. Painter, P.C., is located in Wyomissing (outside of Reading, PA, in Berks County,) and offers trusted legal services in the areas of elder law, including nursing home planning, trust and estate services, and veterans benefits. Scott C. Painter is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®), and he is also a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). 

If you have an issue or question, we encourage you to call us. With legal matters, time is of the essence. Call us for a consultation at 610-378-5140. The $300 consultation fee is waived if Attorney Painter is retained to perform services.

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