Veterans Same-Sex Spouses Now Have Access to VA Benefits

US FlagThe Department of Defense announced that military benefits are now going to be available to married couples of the same sex.

This landmark decision comes in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling against DOMA, which essentially prevented agencies and departments of the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages. This ruling is a national issue that affects same-sex couples in Connecticut.

Good News – Bad News

This is great news for married gay couples but there’s a caveat. Even though the federal government now recognizes same sex marriage, Veteran’s benefits are not covered under the Department of Defense, they fall under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

So what’s the problem? Around three dozen states still do not recognize same sex marriage, and some of these states have large numbers of veterans, including Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas. So a variety in state laws may prevent some couples from receiving benefits.

Is your marriage valid in the eyes of the VA?

The current VA policy states that a veteran who wants to obtain same-sex spousal benefits should reside where same-sex marriage is recognized. However, a veteran may still be eligible if he or she lived in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage at the time they got married, but now lives in a state that does not recognize it.

Some complications might arise from such rules. According to federal statute, the VA will consider your marriage valid if:

  1. You married and lived in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages
  2. You married and lived in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages, but moved to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages, and your eligibility for  veteran’s benefits arose
  3. You lived in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, so you traveled to get married in another state. And then you later  lived in a state where it is recognized, and your eligibility for veteran’s arose in that state.

And the benefits are…

Your spouse may now be eligible for a variety of benefits including health insurance, housing allowances, home loans, social security, burial, retirement and educational benefits.

How can I assert my veteran’s benefits for my partner?

First, if you are not yet married but are considering getting married, you should consult with an Accredited Veterans Affairs Claims Attorney in an effort to make sure you will be covered. An Accredited Veterans Affairs Claims Attorney can help you understand your and your partner’s rights to benefits and assist you in claiming them.  It’s a new law that can be confusing, you don’t want to lose potential benefits by going about it wrong.

 

 

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