There are many veterans out there who fear that they will not live long enough to see a full and fair adjudication of their VA claims. For those who are advancing in age and in poor health, perhaps from service-related disabilities, this is a real concern as the claims process creeps slowly along.
I have talked to many veterans who are simply not aware of what happens to their claims if they die. Many are comforted to learn that their spouses, and perhaps even other family members, may substitute in a VA disability case by “jumping in” upon their passing.
What Does it Mean to Substitute in a VA Disability Case?
The process of “substitution” allows eligible family members, usually spouses but in some cases children or parents, to enter the case and pick up right where the veteran left off. This means that if a veteran dies while waiting for a decision from a judge at the Board in Washington DC, an eligible family member may come into the case, add new arguments and evidence, and if successful, collect compensation benefits that the veteran would have received.
Notice how I mentioned that the eligible family member can add new evidence to the case after substitution. This is very important because sometimes a veteran’s claim is not supported by sufficient evidence. The eligible family member is able to go out and develop evidence to support the case.
Substitution is also available in cases that are awaiting adjudication at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, which is the federal court in charge of reviewing denials from the Board.
Remember that there are time limits for substituting in! Survivors may also be entitled to a range of other VA benefits, including a compensation benefit in cases where the veteran dies due to a service-connected disability.
Are You a Spouse or Child of a Veteran Wondering if You are Entitled to VA Benefits?
Bosley & Bratch is proud to work with veterans who served in all branches of the military and their families. Contact us for a free evaluation of your situation.