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Another Widow Eligible For Va Assistance?


like rockytop, i have an older lady neighbor who i have been talking with about any assistance she may be able to qualify for through the va. here's her situation:

her husband was an army national guardsman during which time he was called up during the berlin crisis (1961?) and was activated to serve at ft meade, md. (more on that later)

years later, still a member of the guard, but not activated, he had a civilian job industrial accident and cut off some of his fingers. as he was very close to having 20 years in the guard he was allowed to stay until he got his 20 years in to qualify for retirement points to start drawing retirement at age 65, i believe. at that time he had to prove he could use his left hand (right was dominant) to fire a weapon or he probably would have been MEB'd out.

upon retirement eligible, for whatever reason, he did not sign his wife up for SBP (survivors benefit pension?) where he could have paid in to ensure that in the case of his death his widow would get a portion of his retirement (up to 55 percent, i believe). because of that, she does not get SBP. she DOES have a pinkish dependent military ID card which gives her access to the px, commissary, post theater, etc., and access to the military hospital's emergency room in case OF emergency. health insurance-wise, she has Tricare for Life, with SS picking up any slack after that. so, she gets army benefits, but no cash directly, and the army has told her that is not ever going to change.

her veteran husband did not live very many years after he became eligible to retire with the national guard. he developed cancer and died shortly after being diagnosed.

okay, that's the back-history.

i believe i have seen on hadit scenarios where widows are attempting to quaify for dependents indemnity clause pension (dic) with or without a service-connected claim from the veteran. i may be mistaken, and only sc vets' widows qualify. that may be the case with her at first glance, but there is more.

Q: without her husband having a service-connected claim ever filed, yet having experienced a non-service connected disability (albeit as an in-activated national guardsman), does she have any rights to filing, at this point, for her to get va dic based on the idea that he might have been eligible if he had applied? i don't remember if pension hinges on income levels or on whether the non-sc had to occur while activated or not. could she feasibly qualify as his widow? would this depend on her financial situation? she does get social security (not sure if this is her own or her husband's or both).

Q: another question involves a "what if" scenario of this widow going back many years to a possible exposure at a known site where cancer-causing agents were used in weaponry possibly causing contamination. i recently saw on hadit a case history where a veteran won a decision involving agent orange being used/stored on guam. the widow's husband/vet was activated and deployed to ft. meade, md, during the berlin crisis (think krushev not airlift which was around 1948-49). the (anti-nuke) nike ajax missiles were first set up at ft meade, md in the 1950s through 1980 per research online. the veteran did not work directly with the missiles (those soldiers wore protective outfits to prevent exposure). he was a cook and i have no idea of his proximity to the missiles or if it has ever been/or will be established that there was verifiable contamination from those missile sites.

researching any possible service-connection to the widow's veteran's cause of death (cancer) i ran across this:

an online description says:

"Nike Ajax was a slender, two-stage guided missile powered by a liquid-fueled motor utilizing a combination of inhibited red fuming nitric acid (IRFNA), unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine (UDMH) and JP-4 jet petroleum."

more on the highlighted UDMH

unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine (UDMH)

UDMH is toxic, a carcinogen and can explode in the presence of oxidisers. It is toxic and is absorbed through the skin. During the 1980s there was concern about the levels of UDMH in various foods being a cancer risk, especially for apple juice."

ft meade is an environmental protection agency "supersite". if you dig enough, you find mention of the nike ajax missiles and other accounts theorize that the fuel for these rockets could have been spilled out of catch-tanks and thus contaminated ground-water. fuel spills do not dissapate to a point, they spread out like a funnel and eventually meet up with ground-water if in sufficient amount.

i know it could be viewed as a stretch to say that the veteran ingested or was exposed to something 30 years before he developed cancer (or not), and it would be a tough row to hoe for a 77-year-old widow to gather the documents such a case would take, but she is still feisty and i think she would. i just wish i had met her years ago with the insight of hadit.

i told her she is very fortunate to have the benefits and ss compensation that she does have, which she acknowledged. i also told her i'd ask the questions of my hadit family on getting some answers to some of the basic dic eligiblity questions, primarily, as well as the obviously complicated ones about whether or not a long-ago documented cancer risk could have eventually killed her husband, and if so, is it worth filing a claim at this point.

i know this was windy, and thanks for listening, as well as any answers, guidance or advice for one vet's family member.

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Since he had active duty service during a war time period she can file for a pension. This is an imcome based program. In order to file for DIC it must be shown that his condition was caused by or aggravated by his military service.

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thanks for the quick sort-out reply on this, sharon. i'll research it, but does anyone know off-hand what va form a widow would need to complete to pursue pension?

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VA Formm 534

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Is she gets SSA that will count and be offset against her potential pension from VA.

DIC is the better benefit- as it is not impacted on by any other forms of income.

We had a widow here whose husband never had a SC rating.

She fought for DIC for many years claiming his death due to heart disease was caused by inservice venereal disease.

The VD (Syphillis)was documented in his SMRs. She got 2 IMos from a Doctor from India who had experience in STDs and stated that the veteran's heart disease more then likely was due to the inservice syphillis even though decades had passed-and even though her husband (an EMT) had never gotten treatment for the heart disease and suddenly died.

She applied for DIC some time after his death. a year had passed from date of death and she was not eligible for any potential accrued DIC benefit- however she did win her claim with a good sized retro.

Widows have to be feisty-and Nothing is impossible with VA if the evidence is there.

I filed for SC death in 2003 due to inservice exposure to AO causing my husband to have DMII, CVA and CAD which all contributed to his death.

Neither the medical records nor the autopsy revealed he had DMII.

I won that DIC claim.

I had found extensive evidence of the undiagnosed DM II, I also had prebviously proved the VA misdiagnosed his CAD and CVAs, and then I got 3 IMOs that supported all the legwork I had done and the fact that the clinical record and autopsy presented DMII undiagnosed untreated leading to death from CVAs and CAD.

So -nothing is impossible- but she might find a rep who will try to knock down any attempt she makes to SC his death.They can be discouraging to widows so it pays to find one who will really help her.

You did raise a possible nexus as to the carcinagenic.

However this claim will take a strongindependent medical opinion to prove that his cancer was directly related to exposure to this carcinagenic ot to any other substance or chemical that could cause his type of cancer.

Was he ever exposed to asbestos in the Mil?

Did his MOS put him into direct contact with any cleaning products that could be carcagens?

His active duty records and all available medical records and his death certificate and autopsy of done, will have to be carefully considered for any nexus of his death and whether anything inservice could have been the nexus for the type of cancer he had.

She should start researching the type of cancer and attempt to find potential causes that way- and then go over his SMRs and MOS duties for any link.

I had a vet locally who unfortunately died before the BVA could render a decision.

Colon Cancer, asbestos exposure proven in service,by his MOS, non smoker vet-

claim filed 35 years after his exposure- and our evidence was from VA itself stating in their asbestos training letter that cancer from asbestos can become manifested many decades after exposure.I also included printout of the ship he was on which was salvaged off coast of Iran due to too much asbestos to be removed, and also printout off a lawsuit in which the man (non vet) won millions from asbestos manufacturer as he had developed the same type of cancer this vet had.

You mentioned AO in Guam-there are other awards AO ALaska, and AO Thailand- this AO vet is member here and writes now for VA WAtchdog.

The research and legwork can pay off -and a good IMO will too if their is any SC death potential here.

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