See also: In The Military
Widows of veterans
can get benefits reinstated
Question: I recently learned of a new law passed last year that restores dependency and indemnity compensation to surviving widows. Can you provide more information?
Answer: One of the provisions of the new Veterans Benefit Act of 2003 is the restoration of these benefits to survivors if they remarry after reaching 57. DIC is an allowance or benefit given to the widow of a veteran who died from a service-connected injury or disease, whose service-connected disease or injury materially contributed to his death, or who had a 100 percent disability rating for a specified period of time.
Under the law, survivors who remarried prior to the date of enactment (Dec. 16, 2003) and after their 57th birthday have one year from the date of enactment to apply for reinstatement of their DIC benefits. The application form is VA form 21-686c and is available on the Web at www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/21-686c.pdf, or at the VA at Tripler Army Medical Center. For further information, call 433-1000.
Q: I heard that Filipino World War II veterans are now eligible for VA health care. Is that true?
A: President Bush signed two bills into law last year that affect certain Filipino World War II veterans. Previously, both Commonwealth Army veterans and New Philippine Scouts were eligible for treatment of service-connected disabilities in VA medical facilities. The Veterans Health Care, Capital Asset, and Business Improvement Act of 2003 removes the requirement that these veterans must qualify for VA service-connected compensation as a condition of health care. Now they are eligible for treatment of non-service-connected disabilities in the same manner as World War II veterans. But they must be living in the United States, and are citizens or lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Filipino veterans can apply at the VA. They must provide proof of legal residency with their application form. For more information on how to apply, call 433-0600.
The second piece of legislation provides some Filipino World War II veterans additional financial benefits. It doubles the VA disability compensation currently paid to New Philippine Scouts if they live in the United States and are either a citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Previously these veterans were paid at half the disability rates normally paid to U.S. veterans. The law will improve benefits for the eligible survivors of both New Philippine Scouts and veterans of the Commonwealth Army or organized guerrilla units if the survivors are currently paid at the half rate and meet the citizenship criteria. No action is required by the affected Filipino veteran or dependents currently on the rolls at the lower rates. VA will automatically adjust their payments. New Philippine Scouts lawfully residing in the U.S. are now eligible for burial in a national cemetery and are eligible for the monetary and headstone or marker burial benefits available to U.S. veterans. Call 433-1000 for more information.
If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran,
call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049
or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.
Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin,
can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at email@example.com.