Can an individual who was
previously married to a Veteran and has remarried claim the VA
Improved Pension Benefit? (This benefit is often referred to as the
Aid and Attendance benefit.) The answer would depend upon the
“family relationship” of the individual to the veteran at the time
of application. If there is a “relationship” that we have not
considered, please let us know. For purposes of this article, we are
going to assume that all other qualifying factors are met. We may
make reference to individuals other than former spouses for analogy.
But note that this discussion is limited to veterans and former
spouses only. Also, this is only a summary and there can be
exceptions to every rule. Without an actual factual case, it would
be an overwhelming task to discuss all of the various exceptions and
how they might or might not apply.
Divorced Spouse of a Veteran Who Marries a Non-Veteran Prior to
Veteran’s Death and after Marriage to Veteran Terminates: A spouse
of a living veteran cannot apply. Therefore, a divorced spouse of a
living veteran cannot apply. The only person who can apply for the
Pension Benefit is the veteran or the surviving spouse. [Veterans
Benefits Manual, §7.1, 2009 Edition, Lexis-Nexis] This is apparent
from the pension programs that exist. There is a Non-Service
Connected Disability Pension available to Veterans. There is also a
Non-Service Connected Death Benefit in the form of the Death
Pension. This latter benefit is one to which the surviving spouse
may be entitled, but not a divorced spouse of a Living Veteran. [38
USC 1541(a)] Therefore, remarrying another would not cause one who
has become disqualified by divorce to somehow become qualified.
Spouse of Deceased Veteran Who Remarries Another After Veterans
Death: Typically, the applicant would not be qualified. [38 USC
103(d)(1)] , 38 CFR 3.55, VA Manual M21-1/Part IV/Subpart
III/Chapter 3/Section F/30] There are some very limited exceptions.
If the remarriage is void or legally annulled, then the applicant
might be qualified. Additionally, from January 1, 1971 to November
1, 1990, remarriage of a surviving spouse might not bar entitlement
to the benefit if the remarriage was terminated (prior to November
1, 1990). After that date a remarried surviving spouse may, in some
circumstances, obtain certain VA benefits such as Dependency and
Indemnity Compensation but, typically, not the Pension Benefit. The
vast majority of the widow cases which we see involve the recent
loss of the spouse. Therefore, the termination of any remarriage is
typically well after the 1990 cut-off date.
Obviously, every case rests on its own set of facts and the above is
only a general overview. Further, the law does change from time to
Next month, Part 2 will deal with the rights of a former spouse who
has not remarried.