Accrued Benefits: THE ONE Benefit the VA never tells Surviving Spouses about.

Military FuneralIf you look at the list of VA Benefits that the VA says are available to the spouses and surviving children of service-connected veterans, you will see a good long list of possible benefits that the VA has available.

However, there is one missing - "accrued benefits".

 

What are Accrued Benefits?

The VA defines "accrued benefits" in the instructions to VA Form 21-534 as a claim for "any money the VA owes the veteran but did not pay prior to his/her death.

 Typically, a Veteran's spouse or eligible surviving child will file the VA Form 21-534, which is a simultaneous application for many other survivor benefits from the VA.

What the VA does not tell spouses and eligible surviving children is that this includes compensation that the VA should have paid to the Veteran for a pending VA Disability Claim, but did not.    





Generally speaking, if a Veteran has a VA disability compensation claim pending, the Veteran's spouse or surviving child is entitled to any "accrued benefits" from that claim.  

In other words, even though a Veteran's claim technically dies with the Veteran, in some situations, the surviving spouse and/or eligible surviving child may be able to take up the claim in their own right.

However, even though a Veteran's claim for compensation for a service-connected disability technically dies with the Veteran, the spouse or eligible surviving child may be entitled to recover those benefits to which the Veteran would have been entitled if he had lived.

 

The Elements of an Accrued Benefits Claim.

Here are the three (3) basic elements of an accrued benefits claim:

1) A claim must be filed within the year after the Veteran's death.  A claim for any benefit using VA Form 21-534 is considered a claim for "accrued benefits".  Also, a claim for Social Security survivor benefits is considered a claim for Survivor Benefits through the VA, even if you only sent the application to the Social Security Administration.

2) The Veteran must have a "pending claim".  The definition of "pending claim" can be very broad or narrow, depending on the unique fact situation that you are in, and it is best that you contact an attorney familiar with "accrued benefits" claims from the VA to determine if your spouse had a "pending claim" at the time of his/her death.

3) Based on the evidence in the record at the time of the Veteran's death, the Veteran was entitled to monthly disability compensation for a service-connected illness or condition or disease.If the Veteran would have provided that evidence to prevail in his or claim but for a failure in the VA's Duty to Assist, then it is possible that an "accrued benefits" claim can be reopened for submission of additional evidence.

If you think you are entitled to Accrued Benefits - and most surviving spouses may well be eligible - there is no substitute for legal advice from a VA accredited Veterans Benefits Attorney.  

The VA will fight you tooth and nail.  

You are going to need to get your hands on your Veterans' C-File to put up a good fight: it is the MOST IMPORTANT Document in Your Survivor Benefits Claim.





Veterans - here are 5 things you can do NOW to protect your surviving spouse and dependents in the event you pass away while your claim is pending.

 

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1993 96 denied ptsd tbi acholic tobacco hearing loss decision had no med records no 211114 no military intell appeal 96 decision they said they lose it just found out it was sent to west vir instead of louisvill were the other denial were made. said I was malingering stupid iq less 70. 2008 they found my stressor 2011 they found my tbi all of which was destroyed by dr hall in 93 and 96 have proof of decision made in 96 may 5 med records were rec on may3 once again did not look at. what they found was stressor tbi documented I was a member of the most intell group in army they destrhoyed my records and until 2005 when judge varo gave me my ssi dis was never looked at again until 2011 awaiting bva docket 0141a1 can prove all abv. American leg rep me very poor jobpresently 70 ptsd 40 tbi 30 headackes 30 parkingson 10 tnn drawing 90 % awaiting tdiu filed feb 2011 would like to burn ther ass up on malpractice and tot claim. last yr dept comm vets aff called asked what I would take no reply vets aff waskington called it dis error ask to be expedited under 38 cfr 20.900 they said no whats your advice lot of money here

Chris Attig says:

Thanks for posting! I think the VA believes that every Vet is a malingerer. :)

I don’t give legal advice on the blog; the blog is just a forum for an exchange of information about the VA procedures, changes in the VA, how the rules and regulations work, etc.

If you want legal advice, I strongly recommend contacting an attorney.

–CA

Martha Maddox says:

hello,
My name is Martha Maddox and my husband Jerry Mackey Jr. died on 6/12/13. I have been waiting compensation and haven getting the run arounds. Is there anything that can be done about this situation. I have been told that there are accrued benefits sitting there waiting on me also. I really need this money because I am homeless and have no car to gwet to my part time job

Chris Attig says:

We don’t give legal advice on the Veterans Law Blog – please use the “Request a Consultation” form on the side of every page on this website to submit your information to us if you’d like us to talk about your VA claim with you.

CA.

Brenda says:

My Dad passed away over 10 years ago, but we recently found out that he was exposed to/sprayed with Agent Orange in Florida near Eglin Air Force Base in the early to mid ’60s. I was born with a rare vascular defect that baffled military and private doctors for years. It has been a real uphill battle for me with this birth defect. I never would have thought that my Dad had been exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War or that it would have caused my birth defect, but I am not sure now. No one in my family has ANYTHING remotely like this. Does anyone know on this forum if this could be the case? Are there any accrued benefits in my particular case? My Dad was in the Army for 21 years, had a heart attack at 30 that the military did not discover until he was 40. They were able to go back to his flight physicals and see where the heart damage occurred, more than likely while he was fighting in Vietnam. Any words of advice?
Thanks!

Chris Attig says:

Brenda,

A lot of folks don’t know that there were several sites in the US where Agent Orange was tested – Florida, Maryland and a couple others come to mind.

Any Veteran exposed to Agent Orange – either Boots on the Ground in the RVN, or during the Elgin AFB Tests in the late 1960s – should have basic eligibility for disability compensation.

Whether there are accrued benefits in your dad’s case, or whether a birth defect like the one you describe can be service-connected, are questions you’re going to want to ask an attorney to look into, since we don’t give legal advice on the blog.

Feel free to use our contact form, or if you want to interview other attorneys, be sure to download our free eBOOK to find out what to ask those attorneys: 8 Things that you Should Know before Hiring an Attorney in your VA Claim.

Chris

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