In Houston, TX, Does My Wife Get My Veterans Disability Income If I Die?

As a disabled veteran, one of the things that may you may be concerned about is the fate and welfare of your spouse and family after your passing. It’s a difficult subject, but one you may need to give thought to in respect to your will and other estate planning matters.

If your Veterans disability income is an important part of your monthly budget, it is possible that your spouse can receive it after your death, but it isn’t automatic.

Woman with a pen completing a life insurance policy and Veterans Disability Income paperwork.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

A spouse, child or parent of a veteran who died in the line of duty, a survivor of a Vietnam veteran who died from a service-related illness or injury may be eligible for DIC. This is a monthly payment to surviving spouses, children, and occasionally parents, and it is tax-free.

However, there are eligibility requirements to apply for and begin receiving DIC. A surviving spouse must fill out an application to request these monthly benefits, as well as notify the VA that the veteran is deceased.

Criteria For DIC

The VA uses the following criteria to define a surviving spouse, if he or she:

  • Were married to the veteran in excess of one year
  • Were married for any time period and the spouse died
    • On active duty
    • During training while on active duty or inactive duty
  • Were married to the veteran within 15 years of his discharge, and the veteran’s death was caused by or exacerbated by a service-connected injury or illness
  • If the marriage date was prior to January 1, 1957
  • Had a child with the veteran, and was:
    • Living with the veteran until his/her death, or
    • Separated from the veteran and was not the survivor’s fault

A spouse may be eligible if the veteran died:

  • On active duty
  • From a service-connected injury or illness
  • While doing training on active duty or inactive duty
  • Was receiving disability compensation from the VA:
    • For at least 10 years before passing
    • From his or her discharge date, for at least five years before passing away
    • For at least 1 year if he or she were a prisoner of war


If a spouse remarries and before reaching age 57 or before December 16, 2003, the VA won’t consider them a “surviving spouse.”  But they would be considered “surviving” if the remarriage happened after the age of 57 and after that date.

Survivor’s Pension

For low-income, unremarried surviving spouses, the Survivor’s Pension may also be available if your spouse is a deceased wartime veteran.

The veteran must have:

  • Served for at least 90 days of active duty and at least one day during a period of wartime if he or she joined on or before September 1, 1980.
  • Served for at least 24 months or for the full period of enlistment with at least one day during a period of wartime if he or she joined after September 1, 1980.
  • Been discharged from the service under other than honorable conditions

Your family’s income must be less than the annual pension limit set by Congress, and the VA will use your “countable income” against the set limit. Some unreimbursed medical expenses may be deducted from the “countable income” and lower the income for the year.

Other Survivor’s Benefits

In addition to DIC and the Survivor’s Pension, spouses and children may also be eligible for:

  • Survivor’s & Dependent’s Educational Assistance Program, available for spouses and children of disabled and deceased veterans who are interested in educational and vocational training, including college-level and university-level courses. There are time limits involved, particularly for children.
  • Home Loans for service members, veterans, and spouses to buy a home, as well as repairs, refurbishing, remodeling and modifications to accommodate specific needs (such as a wheelchair ramp.)
  • Fiduciary services for veterans and beneficiaries who are unable to handle their own financial affairs.
  • Will planning and benefit training, with a free online will service. Financial services professionals are available 24/7.

An Advocate For Disabled Veterans And Spouses

If you’re a disabled veteran, or the spouse of one, don’t let the application and appeals process for Veterans disability income confuse you—get help from someone who can guide you through it.  Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

Veterans Disability For Autoimmune Diseases In Houston, TX

Autoimmune diseases encompass a number of different conditions that share one common trait: they attack the body’s tissues as if it were a pathogen by producing specific antibodies to attack the healthy cells.

Doctors aren’t sure what triggers this biological mistake, but some people are more likely to have it than others. Science has identified 81 different autoimmune diseases. These illnesses can develop at any age, but most commonly between 40 and 50.

Discussing Veterans Disability benefits For Autoimmune Diseases In Houston, TX with a disability benefits attorney

Types Of Autoimmune Disease

Of the 81 identified, the most common of these autoimmune conditions include:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  • Grave’s Disease
  • Vasculitis
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Psoriasis
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

If left untreated, an autoimmune condition could lead to damage to different parts of the body, including joints, skin, nerves, and muscles.

Causes Of AD

While science doesn’t offer a direct cause, researchers suspect:

  • Genetics, since some conditions run in families (i.e., lupus and MS)
  • Increased exposure to chemicals and other environmental toxins
  • The “standard Western diet” (sometimes called SAD or Standard American Diet), consisting of highly processed foods, including a large amount of sugar and synthetic fats
  • The “hygiene hypothesis”—children use antiseptics frequently are now vaccinated for such a wide range of things that they aren’t exposed to the bacteria and other substances that they used to. Without the exposure to “everyday germs,” immune systems don’t develop properly, and tend to over-react to harmless substances.

PTSD And The Service Connection

Part of applying for VA benefits includes establishing a service connection, and proving that your condition or injury occurred during the time you were in the service. But with many conditions, that’s not as easy as it sounds, although PTSD is a common service-connected cause for VA benefits.

A study conducted at the San Francisco VA Medical Center demonstrates a strong link between PTSD and the onset of autoimmune diseases. With 666,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as study subjects, those diagnosed with PTSD had a 51% higher chance of developing an autoimmune condition.

The research team cited a number of reasons for this correlation, including:

  • Immunity and/or hormonal changes that are brought on by PTSD
  • Habits that are prevalent in PTSD patients, such as smoking, drinking, a less-than-ideal diet, and insufficient sleep
  • Genetic and/or pre-existing genetic risk factors may lay the ground work for both conditions

It’s important to note that PTSD does not directly cause an autoimmune deficiency, only that there is a strong correlation. However, to prove a VA claim for compensation, one only has to establish a 50% probability of causation for the autoimmune condition. Therefore, the aforementioned VA study may be one part of your overall strategy.

Autoimmune As A Secondary Condition

If you already have a claim for PTSD, seeking a secondary service connection between the PTSD and the autoimmune condition may be your best bet for getting benefits for it.

Because no primary causes are established, it may be difficult to pinpoint where and when your autoimmune condition began. But proving that your autoimmune disease as a “side effect” of PTSD as a secondary service connection is a different matter.

You will have to prove your primary service connection first, which will require evidence including:

  • Medical records and diagnosis
  • Treatments
  • Psychological exams
  • Vocational reports
  • Other related, relevant documentation

Additionally, you’ll need to prove a connection to your primary condition in order to prove your secondary condition. This will require a letter from a medical professional demonstrating the connection between the two conditions. The VA offers some information here.

Getting help with your VA disability application is the best way to get a head start on what may be a long, difficult process. An attorney experienced in VA applications can help you get started. He or she understands the process, and will ensure that your application is done correctly.

Helping Houston’s Veterans

William Herren is a veterans’ disability attorney who has worked with veterans in the Houston area for more than 30 years to help them get the benefits they deserve. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges. We don’t charge you a fee until we win your case.

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