Every marriage comes with its own unique challenges and requires commitment, growth and a lot of hard work to survive. However, these challenges can be even more difficult to cope with when a military-related disability is added to the mix.
If you are the spouse of a disabled service member, you already know the emotional, physical and financial toll that is faced not only by your partner but also yourself and your family. It can be a frustrating experience, especially when your spouse leaving the military due to their disability leaves you ineligible for certain benefits, such as various scholarship opportunities and the Military Spouse Preference in Employment program.
Nothing can eliminate the difficulties that you face completely, but support is available to you through several programs. Some of these programs will be automatically granted if your spouse is registered for veteran benefits, whereas others will require an application.
If you are looking for services and support, we have a helpful guide that offers a quick look at various benefits available to spouses of vets with disabilities, as well as their eligibility requirements.
Extra Disability Compensation
Most veterans struggling with “service-connected” disabilities Fdri will be eligible for financial aid through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Of course, sometimes these payments are insufficient when considering the huge cost associated with disabilities, especially when the disabled service member was the primary source of income for a family.
That is why in certain cases, veterans with disabilities can receive higher payments if they have a spouse. When applying for VA benefits, a veteran will be given a predicted “level” of disability, ranging from 10% to 100%. If a veteran is deemed over 30% disabled, they will automatically receive additional payment depending on whether they have a spouse and children. The best part of this program is that, although VA benefits require an application, the added payments for spouses are automatic.
In many cases, a service-connected disability means spouses must take on the responsibility of caring for their family financially, even if they have never been in this role before. For many military spouses, it is a challenge to gain the educational requirements needed to be a competitive candidate in the modern job market.
Fortunately, there is support available to help spouses pursue education, training,and certifications that can help them establish rewarding careers.
Offered through the Survivors and Dependents Education Assistance Program, spouses of disabled veterans can receive funding towards a wide range of academic endeavors, from degrees and diplomas to on-site training and apprenticeships.
As a spouse registering after August 2018, you will have a period of 36 months to use your education benefits. You must be the daughter, son or spouse of a veteran whose death or disability is linked to their service; who died while a permanent, service-connected disability was in existence; or is captured or missing in action.
To learn more and begin your application, you can start here.
Of course, a permanent disability will often require extensive medical care, but family members need to be able to care for their health and wellbeing as well. The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (or, simply CHAMPVA) is a program designed to provide certain civilian dependents with comprehensive, quality health care coverage.
Through CHAMPVA, spouses of disabled veterans can receive reimbursement for both physical and psychological care that is deemed medically necessary. CHAMPVA recipients are also eligible for the VA Dental Insurance Program, also known as VADIP, which offers reduced-cost dental plans.
If you are a Medicare recipient, you likely do not have to worry about losing Medicare coverage when enrolling with CHAMPVA. As a matter of fact, CHAMPVA serves as a secondary payer to Medicare. If you are also eligible for Medicare, you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B to keep CHAMPVA benefits, unless you were 65 or older before June 2001.
The steep cost of medical care can be a huge burden for any family, and it is only harder when there is a permanent disability in the family. CHAMPVA is a great way to include dependents of disabled vets and allow them to enjoy the same quality care.
In general, children and spouses of disabled veterans will be eligible for coverage, although there are many technicalities involving matters such as stepchildren, adult children, and divorce. For example, children of veterans will lose coverage after turning eighteen unless they remain enrolled in school, and stepchildren who no longer live with the veteran will also lose their benefits.
Here is a full list of eligibility requirements, as well as situations in which CHAMPVA benefits can end.
Even in the most tragic circumstances, finances can present a significant toll for spouses. With the assistance of burial allowances, military spouses can focus on their grief and healing without focusing on money. Many but not all veterans are eligible for burial allowances, including veterans with disabilities, and those receiving PA pensions.
In cases where the death is not connected to service, recipients have up to two years following the burial or cremation to apply for a burial allowance. However, there is no similar time restraint for veterans who have passed away in connection with their service.
Burial allowances can be used for funeral costs, plots, and transportation to national cemeteries. Recipients must prove that they are the spouse, child or parent of the veteran, or administrator of their estate. They must also provide military papers, death certificates, and documents to prove the cost of transporting remains to a national cemetery. You can apply for a burial allowance here.
This list, while including some of the primary and popular benefits available to military spouses, is not complete. There are many benefits and programs available to military families, although eligibility may vary.
To learn more about the benefits available, and which programs you do and do not qualify for, visit the VA page on spouses, dependents,and survivors.