Dennis R. Nixon, National Commander

Improving survivors benefits

Having been a combat-wounded amputee for 50 years, it’s hard to imagine getting through the basic mechanics of life without my wife, Maxine, supporting me as my partner and caregiver. She’s served alongside me for so many years and has shared in my sacrifice to our country. But as I get older, I find myself thinking more and more about what will happen to her if my time comes to an end and I begin standing post on heaven’s streets before she passes.

In the case of service-connected veterans who pass away due to a disability in uniform or who had a totally disabling condition for a long period of time, survivors can receive a monthly stipend known as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).

While receiving such compensation might seem like a financial relief, the fact is that DIC inadequately supports survivors. Consider that a veteran who’s receiving 100 percent disability compensation today receives approximately $3,227 per month, whereas the current DIC benefit is $1,283 per month. That’s a loss of approximately $24,000 per year in the wake of dealing with the death of a loved one, and that financial strain can potentially be devastating.

That’s why DAV is advocating for Congress to adjust the DIC benefit to a more equitable 55 percent of the amount provided for disability compensation to a veteran rated totally disabled, and then index it for inflation.

DAV is also advocating for the VA to lift the 10-year delimiting date for dependents and survivors who are eligible for Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance, known as Chapter 35, under Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment. Currently, beneficiaries only have 10 years to apply for and complete eligible education programs, beginning either from the date the veteran is rated permanently and totally disabled or the date of the veteran’s death.

You can learn more about DAV’s push for improved survivors benefits on Page 5.

Like many of you, my spouse has been an integral part of my life—often sacrificing her own needs and financial well-being to care for me—and I want to ensure that she continues to receive adequate support when I’m gone. But I cannot do it alone, which is why I humbly ask for your help, for Maxine and countless others who stand to lose much more than a loved one when their veteran passes away.

By calling your elected officials and policymakers to advocate for improved benefits for veterans’ survivors, you will help ensure the 116th Congress does not sit on its laurels in considering ways to strengthen and expand support for veterans—and for their families and survivors.

 

If you want to find out more about the National Commander, you can find his biography here.