|Matthew Hill:||Hello and welcome to another Hill and Ponton VA Video Blog. I’m Matthew Hill.|
|Carol Ponton:||I’m Carol Ponton.|
|Matthew Hill:||Today we want to talk to you about a certain kind of widow’s benefits, called DIC benefits. There are several ways to get this benefit, and essentially the benefit is an ongoing monthly stipend, monthly pension, that the widow, the survivor …|
|Carol Ponton:||The widower.|
|Matthew Hill:||The widower would get if the veteran died due to one of several reasons. We’re going to focus today on the primary reason people get it, and that’s a service-connected death. That means the veteran died due to a service-connected disability. The way that’s most obvious is, if you will, if the veteran’s service-connected disability was the primary cause of death. If there veteran’s hurt, service-connected, and he dies of a heart attack, then that widow, widower, would be entitled to service-connected compensation for that.|
|One area where we find that survivors get pushed into the cracks, if you will, by the VA, is the other way of showing that it’s a service-connected death, and that their service-connected disability contribute to the death.|
|Carol Ponton:||It doesn’t have to be the main cause. It can be a contribution to the death. I think of one where the veteran was service-connected for PTSD, but he died of a heart attack. His treating psychiatrist said that because of his PTSD and his anxiety, that they think that contributed to the problem with his heart. His widow as given DIC benefits for that.|
|Matthew Hill:||Basically what she’s saying is the PTSD didn’t cause the heart attack, but it contributed to the heart problem, which did. There are other ones. If a veteran has diabetes, and let’s say it’s a Vietnam veteran, and then has a heart disease, which is not coronary artery disease, which would be presumptive service-connected, but a different kind of heart disease, an arrhythmia. He dies of the heart disease. That’s another issue where the diabetes would contribute to the approximate cause of that death, because it affected or worsened, I guess you could say, the heart disease.|
|Carol Ponton:||Exactly. I think we actually had one where the arthritis was so bad that it … The pain that that contributed to the heart disease. There are a number of things that can contribute it. You really shouldn’t just disregard this great benefit just because it wasn’t exactly what’s on the death certificate. If you can show that it contributed to the death, then you’re entitled to benefits.|
|You always want to also just throw in the one about if you’ve been 100% disabled for ten years, it doesn’t matter what you die of. He can be hit by a car. You’re covered. That’s something always to keep in the back of your mind. If the veteran has been 100% disabled for ten years or more, the widow or the widower is covered.|
|Matthew Hill:||What she said is two totally unrelated things. 100% for PTSD, again, yet has cancer, which is completely unrelated, then they would be … The widow would be able to get DIC benefits.|
|Back to the service-connected death, and the proximate cause, as Carol said, these could be so outside the box. We won a claim recently where the veteran died of liver disease, and was service-connected 100% for PTSD. There was no connection between the two, except there was a note from his doctor saying that he was eligible for a transplant, but for his PTSD made him so wild, and so illogical, that it was not worth the risk, it was not worth the hospital to give him the liver. But for his PTSD, he would have had a new liver. If he would have had a new liver, her would not have died.|
|Carol Ponton:||Just look into this. This is a great benefit, and it’s missed by so many people that are entitled to this benefit. We’re not just talking about widows. There are dependents that could be getting this benefit, and the benefit can be very significant.|
|Matthew Hill:||Dependent children, and dependent parents.|
|Matthew Hill:||Thanks for listening in, and we look forward to seeing you next time on the Hill and Ponton Video Blog.|
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