If my mother remarried a man who wasn't a veteran, does she lose her veteran benefits?

15 answers | Last updated: Sep 30, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have a question about the Veteran Aid and Attendance program. I have attended seminars and no one is, or able, to answer my question.

Dad was WWII Vet, dad past away 1996. Mom and Dad were married over 40 years. After dad past away, in 1998, mom remarried. This man was not in the military, thou, I have told he had his own business which supplied material to the government during the wars. In 2002, he past away. Barely married to mom less than 5 years.

Mom lives in her own home (still owns) w/ my brother. He lives there free/clear. She has dementia and other health related problems. My brother and I have DPOA, but my brother says he "established residency" hires in-home caregiving which is dwiddling her savings away.

1) Did mom lose her eligibility for Vet Benefits for Aid and Attendance because she remarried someone not physically a Vet?

2) Doesn't being married to a Vet for over 40 years

count for some benefit?

3) Mom has pension and SS, which is approx $2300 monthly

Mom and I live in Michigan. I have a multitude of issues with my brotehr, but will stay focused on my question concerning the Vet Aid and Attendence, I would appreciate any help on this matter. Thank you. Please help....

Expert Answers

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for Caring.com.

When a widow of a Veteran remarries a non-Veteran and he subsequently dies, there is a very specific rule that applies. The second marriage must have ended on or before November 1, 1990 for the surviving spouse to be eligible for a widow's pension with or without Aid and Attendance. In your mother's case, both marriages ended after this date, so she is not eligible for this benefit. The base benefit is a pension, which is means-tested. This means that there are financial qualifications. Aid and Attendance is an additional award when the claimant needs assistance from someone else to help with daily activities. In this case, the means test doesn't apply because your mother does not meet the eligibility criteria for a surviving spouse.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Just following up for clarification:

1) Because of mom's monthly income of $2300, she would

not qualify because she brings in too much money is this correct?

You talk of Base Pension, does this mean just the Pension alone, or includes Soc Security. Because, mom's Pension is under $1000. When combined with her Soc Security makes it the $2300.

2) Your first comment on the Veteran spouse passing

before 1990, in order to qualify? So what you are saying, any Veteran who dies after 1990, is excluded?

I attended many seminars on this matter, to sit through 1-1/2 hour power point presentation, full of family members, despearately seeking a way to help with paying for assisted living, NOT one representative mentioned 1990 passing of the Veteran spouse as a qualification. There are many Veterans that have past away after that date and the spouse qualifies. It doesn't make sense.

It certainly seems like a good program, however, there seems to be way too many restrictions, way too many standards, and certainly makes the family jump through hoops. Why do these Representatives for the program make it such a secret, make it hard to get specific answers. With all the "potential scams" in today's world, this almost sounds doubtful.

Mom's dementia is progressing, and needs assistance with her Acitivities of Daily Living. I know she would meet eligibily for her health needs.

But to clarify, mom would not qualify because 1) she brings in too much money,
2) her 2nd marriage was to a non-Vet 3) there are no exemptions to the rule regarding

being married to my dad of 40 years, who died in 1996.

Is This correct? Thank you for responding to my question

Barbara steinberg answered...
  1. Mom does not qualify because, in the VA's eyes, she is not the widow of a Veteran. The only way she would be considered a widow of a Veteran is if her second husband died before November 1, 1990. This is not the case.
  2. Because of #1, her income is irrelevant. If she were the widow of a Vet, the VA can offset her income with out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as home care expenses and health insurance premiums. So income eligibility depends on the individual case. Since she is not the widow of a Veteran, this does not matter.

Mom7237 answered...

That's just awful, being married for over 40 years. To my dad doesn't mean a thing.

I have my dad's discharge papers, I have his medals, I have his uniform, mom has his flag and none of this matters.

Va accredited agent answered...

I can easily understand your frustration. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the pension program (aid & attendance) What is can tell you is that if your mother remarried after the age of 57 to a non-veteran because her first husband is deceased she would be entitled to the pension. As far as income is concern, without knowing more details I would not be able to qualify your mother in this area. I would be then happy to assist you or any veterans family memners in getting this benefit.

Barbara steinberg answered...

I am also a VA Accredited Agent. The rule is that if the second marriage ended after November, 1990, she is not eligible.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Now, you have me more confused.
You say if mom remarried after the age of 57 (which she did) she would be entitled to the pension. Mom's details are listed above.

Barbara Steinberg comments on the 2nd marriage rule. If this ends after 1990 makes more ineligible. Again this doesn't make sense. My dad who was the Vet died in 1996, Mom was 77 when she mom remarried in 1998 (non-Vet) and he past away in 2002.

Why is it that these Power Point representatives, don't mention more of the details involving eligibility? It's like this benefit is a big secret and pulling teeth not only finding someone who will listen to you, but will give you accurate information?

Va accredited agent answered...

Note: Under Public Law 108-183, if a surviving spouse remarries on or after reaching the age of 57, eligibility for payment of DIC is retained.

Barbara steinberg answered...

The last response refers to DIC which is only for service related death. I was referring to pension + Aid and Atttendance, which is what most surviving spouses get.

A fellow caregiver answered...

First, what does DIC stand for?
And where can I get a copy of this Public Law 108-183 that you mention?

So is what you are saying that mom would qualify for the Veterans Aid Program? Even thou, she remarried to a non-vet at the age of 77. Mom lives in SE Michigan, is there someone in this region I can talk to?

Barbara steinberg answered...

DIC stands for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. It only applies if the veteran died as a result of illness or injury connected to his service.

The common benefit is nonservice connected pension and the November 1, 1990 date applies to this benefit.

Va accredited agent answered...

My suggestion is simple. Go online to the VA web site, you can apply online for your mother. there are 2 major problems with the VA. First if you call the VA they may say yes or they may say no!!! It depends on who you are talking to. The reason for this is that the VA is vastly under staffed with qualified people. Second just because the VA denies the claim it does not make it so. You have the right to appeal there ruling. What is important to remember is that congress passes laws and not the VA. The VA interprets these laws. The best example of this is Agent Orange. First the VA said there was not a problem, then it became "Tell us where you where in Vietnam" then it was if you where in Vietnam so forth and so on. In the last 6 months they have added new diseases to the every growing list of diseases associated with agent orange. Meaning you could of been denied in the pass and now you are eligible. However the VA will not tell yoou this. Also as a point of fact in reference to Agent Orange The VA says where in Vietnam? Which leads everyone to believe that unless you where in Vietnam you where not exposed to Agent Orange while on active duty. The fact of the matter is this is incorrect!!!! You could of been in Korea or on a military base in the US and still be exposed to Agent Orange. Just because the VA says no, it does not make it so. The VA Court of Appeals and the Federal Courts have ruled many times against the VA and there interpertation of the Federal Laws. This is also a point of fact, Especially if you consider that this is what I and my team of accredited attorneys do.

A fellow caregiver answered...

To follow up with every one's comments, I contacted an Elder Law Attorny with my specific question about mom remarrying to a non-vet and asked if she would be eligible for VA benefits Aid/ Attendence. After all being married to my dad, WWII Vet. Dad past away and mom remarried.

The answer is no, so it looks like she forfeited her benefits when she remarried.

I appreciate every ones feedback. This is a wonderful sounding board for resources.

Va accredited agent answered...

I had this very conversation with the VA in Philly where all the aid and attendance programs are processed for the east coast. Accotding to them it does not matter!!! I strongly suggest that you call 1800-827-1000 follow the instructions on the phone and you will be contacted to a va rep.

A fellow caregiver answered...

thank you for the phone number. I will follow up with them. However, I simply find it amazing the mixed responses I have been receiving.