Direct Service Connection

The VA will pay compensation for any injury or illness that began in service or was caused by or a result of military service. The amount of money you will be paid depends upon how many impairments you have and how severe those impairments are. 

In order to prove a direct service connection, you must have current diagnosed disability. The best evidence for a current disability is usually your current medical records, either VA records or other medical providers.

For this reason, it is important that you continue to get treatment for your condition. You will also need to show that your disability is related to your time in the service. For this, evidence can be medical records from your service time, or a report of an incident or accident.

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Secondary Service Connection

The VA will pay compensation for conditions that are secondary to already service connected conditions.  The amount of money you will be paid depends upon how many impairments you have and how severe those impairments are. 

For example, many Veterans suffer from diabetes mellitus caused by Agent Orange exposure during their time in Vietnam.  Many conditions may arise due to diabetes mellitus later on in life. A few examples of common conditions related to diabetes mellitus include retinopathy, chronic kidney disease, and/or peripheral neuropathy of both upper and lower extremities.

A veteran diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy secondary to diabetes mellitus, for example, is entitled to compensation for each extremity affected by their neuropathy secondary to diabetes.  

Widow and Child Benefits/DIC

Widows and widowers can apply for disability benefits after a veteran dies. It can be tricky handling the process alone and our experienced team of attorneys will help you navigate the waters. A surviving spouse may have access to benefits the veteran wasn’t getting during their life that is now available. The claim review is always free, so there is nothing to lose!

There are three main types of benefits surviving spouses are eligible for. These three main types of benefits have different requirements and may result in different payouts. This means a widow could receive a monthly benefit or a one-time payout depending on the type of claim. We will break down the three main types, but set up a consultation with us today to discuss the best option and put you on the right track.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

A Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) VA Claim is paid to survivors of a military service member who died as a result of service connected conditions and/or conditions that were incurred during their time in the military service.

Eligible family members are able to apply for benefits because their loved one died during active duty or they contracted a service-connected illness or condition while in the military. Surviving family members could be the spouse or surviving children of veterans.

This type of benefit is not a one-time check but rather a monthly recurring payment for the rest of the dependent’s life. The base rate is approximately $1,300 a month. If the veteran’s parents were depending on the deceased vet, they can receive more based on home health care needs. Children still in school until they are 23 that fulfill certain criteria can also qualify to divide the payment.

These applications can start any time after the veteran’s death but the sooner the better.

Only the Accrued and Substitution claims have to be filed within a year of death.

Accrued VA Benefits for DIC

Accrued VA Benefits for widows are some of the most restrictive. Widows of a deceased veteran may be entitled to accrued benefits which are for claims and/or appeals pending at the time of the Veterans death. Once a veteran dies, the widow has a year from the date of the Veterans death to apply for these benefits.

During that time, all the forms, documentation and claims must be submitted. If there were any other claims in progress or outstanding, they cease, and the Accrued Benefits claims are left standing. The “entitlement,” or amount of the claim, is limited to any pending claims that were pending at the time of the veteran’s death.

If new evidence comes out; or if you find new documents regarding Agent Orange, for example, while going through the veteran’s things you cannot add that to the same claim. That is a closed claim. It is a one-time situation.

Once it is filed (in the allotted time within that year after death) the claim is closed after a decision is made. Now, if the claimant has past-due benefits from before December 2003 (the rules changed then) and the actual benefits could be different.

Some claims with the VA take a long time. If there were denials and errors in the effective date of a decision or anything coming into play before that date, the rules could be applicable. If there is an open VA claim in process and in the meantime, the veteran dies, you cannot add anything to it with the Accrued Benefits claim.

The benefit amount will be equal to the total amount of past due benefits that would have been or should have been awarded to the veteran. This happens when there is already a VA claim in process when the veteran dies; or if it is in the appeals process. 


A Substitution Claim is similar to a claim for accrued benefits. If a veteran dies before receiving a decision on a new claim or while waiting on a decision from an appeal, a widow can be substituted for the handling of the deceased Veterans claims or appeals and prevents them losing any past due benefits that may have been owed to the Veteran prior to their death.

The widow takes the place of the deceased veteran, so to speak. The timeline doesn’t start over and you can add new evidence to the claim.

Let’s Talk Today

The sooner we can get started on your claim, the better. We offer free claim reviews, and our team of lawyers and legal professionals are ready to start fighting for you right away. Reach out and schedule your free case review now.