DIC Benefits?


Hi, I am a 1+year widow, my husband and I thought I would automatically receive his disability benefits after his death. However, after filling all the paperwork out, I was informed I had to prove his 70% Vietnam Vet PTSD was directly correlated to his massive cerebral stroke. The first time I researched this I found a lot of info, stating they did correlate, however, all lawsuits were not in the veterans' favor despite the evidence. Are you aware of any court presidents I am missing? Now a year later, I am not finding as much info. What would be the best phrase to use to research this? Thank you in advance for your service here, and for you military service.


Jim's Reply:

My condolences, I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your veteran.

Surviving dependents do not get a part of the veterans benefits on the death of the veteran. If the survivor is eligible that person may receive DIC benefits but those pay considerably less than the veterans award.

Eligibility for DIC is centered on how the veteran died and whether or not the death was caused or contributed to by a rated service connected condition. Your veteran died of a cerebral stroke, a condition that isn't connected to a PTSD diagnosis as easily as diabetes would be, for example. It's commonly accepted in medicine and health that diabetes causes vascular diseases and that vascular diseases cause heart attacks and strokes. It is not commonly accepted that symptoms of PTSD cause vascular disease and thus stroke.

You'll absolutely have to have an expert Independent Medical Opinion (IMO) from a disability doctor who has done this before. Even if you were to provide reams of paperwork in support of your theory, you are not a health care professional and your opinion doesn't carry any probative weight.

You're asking me about precedent in similar cases and unfortunately decisions in the courts established to serve veterans do not set precedent in VA appeals. Each appeal is unique and must be reinvented for every new case. You can research outcomes of cases here https://www.bva.va.gov/ 

If you're doing this yourself, you're fighting an army of lawyers and bureaucrats who are not on your side. You need a lawyer...an accredited veterans law attorney

To be honest, I'm not sure that most veterans law attorneys will take on your appeal for benefits unless you have a solid IMO in hand. Without the IMO you don't have a case that I can see and that you're already a year out from his passing isn't in your favor. Please speak to an IMO doctor and then to a veterans law attorney to see what you may be able to put together. Good luck.