Search for Other Eligible Survivors Continues
WASHINGTON (Dec. 24, 2008) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
has identified nearly 11,000 surviving spouses of deceased veterans who
will receive a lump-sum payment before the New Year to correct an error
in their VA benefits. Also documented were more than 73,000 who had
been previously paid. VA officials are still tracking down eligible
"I am pleased that our task force working to correct this problem has
been able to identify this first group this week," said Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "We understand the difference these
funds can make for these surviving spouses, especially during the
Payments will be released to these survivors on Dec. 29. The total
value of the payments is about $24 million.
At issue is a 1996 federal law that makes a surviving spouse eligible to
receive the veteran's VA compensation or pension benefit for the month
of the veteran's death. VA failed to properly implement that law in all
Most likely to have been affected by this problem are surviving spouses
who never applied for VA survivors' benefits following the death of a
veteran. Eligible for the payment are surviving spouses of veterans who
died after Dec. 31, 1996. The Department doesn't have current addresses
for many of them, which makes the process of contacting them difficult.
VA has established a special Survivor Call Center (1-800-749-8387) for
spouses who believe they may be eligible for this retroactive benefit.
The Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00
p.m., Central Standard Time. Inquiries may also be submitted through
the Internet at http://www.vba.va.gov/survivorsbenefit.htm.
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