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War Widow Pension Or Early Survivors Benefits

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My husband passed away 12/29/08 after fighting with VA for 5 years. He was still in appeal awaiting a decision when he passed. I have continued the claim on his behalf and am still appealing. I am faced with a difficult decision and do not know which way to go. I would be entitled to Social Security Survivors benefits when I turn 60 in August but it would only be at 70% for life which I believe will be about $630. I thought it would be better to apply for the Wartime Widow Death Pension with VA so I could delay getting Social Security until I reached full retirement age at 67. I was told it would probably take about 3 months to receive the VA pension. I filed in August of 2009 for the death pension. When I went to a useless hearing with a Review Officer at the Regional VA my representative told me that VA had received my claim for Death Pension but as of April (month of the hearing) the file hadn't been opened. It is now June. A full 9 months, going on 10 months since I applied. Is this normal? Is it because of the appeal? The Review Officer wouldn't even answer my questions. She said she could not over-rule the VA doctor. Then she said that the doctor said that my husband's diagnosis of Cardiac Ischemia had nothing to do with his claim for Coronary Artery Disease which was service connected. Lack of blood flow is the cause of Cardiac Ischemia and what we are fighting for is service connected CAD. But, my continued battle with VA aside, why is the claim for the pension taking so long. My representative said that all death pension claims go to Ohio. He said he thought they did out of state claims last. Then he laughed and said for all he knew they didn't get in state claims done. I told him it was a good thing I wasn't starving on the street. I moved in with one of my daughters when my husband died. I told my local representative what happened in Montgomery and he had it added to my claim that the RO stated at the beginning of the meeting that she couldn't over throw the decision and would not answer my questions about the doctor's report. It sure would be nice if someone somewhere did have the authority to do something. In the meantime the pension sure would help. Is there any recourse or way to find out what is taking so long. Other than a letter saying they received the claim I received in September of 2009 I haven't heard anything about my widow's pension. Any suggestions as to what I should do? Any help would be appreciated.

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When my husband died my claim was treated as a claim for direct SC, also 1151 SC and also they considered for war time pension.

It all took years.Your pension claim could possibly go much faster then that-but direct DIC for service connected death is by far the better benefit for many reasons.One reason is it is not offset by Social Security retirement or survivors benefits, or any other income.

"Then she said that the doctor said that my husband's diagnosis of Cardiac Ischemia had nothing to do with his claim for Coronary Artery Disease which was service connected" a good example of the arbitrary nature of the VA.

What was the exact wording as cause of death on the death certificate?

Was an autopsy done and if so do you have a complete copy of the results?

I assume he had war time service as that is one criteria for a widow's pension.

Was he an incountry Vietnam veteran?

Are you claiming ischemic heart disease due to Agent Orange?

"I have continued the claim on his behalf and am still appealing."

What is the status of that claim and can you tell us exactly what the last denial stated?

Do you have copies of his complete medical records as well as copies of any VA medical opinions they used to deny with?

They tried to deny me by parsing the VA doctor's statements in 2 SOCs.When the VA doctor sent me the actual C & P results he had written-I was shocked as the VARO had left out the most important thing he said.

What was his VA rating when he died, and was that solely for the SC CAD?

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If you are able to work at all you would be better off getting a job or keeping your job as you have to be destitute to get war widow's pension. It is a tiny amount of money. If you get SSA you won't be able to get widow pension. They offset each other as I understand it. Go for DIC as Berta says. If you can't work you would be better off on SSI or SSD than war widow's pension.

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If you are able to work at all you would be better off getting a job or keeping your job as you have to be destitute to get war widow's pension. It is a tiny amount of money. If you get SSA you won't be able to get widow pension. They offset each other as I understand it. Go for DIC as Berta says. If you can't work you would be better off on SSI or SSD than war widow's pension.

When my husband died our remodeling/repairs business and all income went with him. I have not worked outside the home for over 18 years. The only time I worked outside of the home was for 8 months when my husband retired to help out until he got his business going. Jobs are few and far between here. We have people with degrees working at Walmart. My 17 year old grandson has been trying to get a part time job for almost a year now. Grownups are taking all the kids summer jobs. Until my husband's case is settled (it has been going on for over 6 years now) I am not entitled to DIC. If I collect his Social Security early (at age 60) it will be set at 70% for life. At 70% I would receive less than the war widow's pension. I cannot get disability because I never paid into Social Security and although I have arthritis in my neck, lower back, hands, and feet that would not be concidered 100% disabled. They just diagnosed a cyst between the vertibrae in my lower back, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column), and movement in my neck. When they did the last shot in my back they tried to drain the cyst but it didn't work. The shots help some but the doctors are trying to put off back and neck surgery as long as possible. There are days when it is hard for me to walk far, stand for long, or sit for long. Other days I do fine. When I get back from visiting by other daughter and my 8 month old great granddaughter i will be going through physical therapy again. Tricare covers 24 visits each year. It really does help. I was just hoping that the widow's pension would tide me over until I reach full Social Security age or they make a decision about my husband's VA case. My representative says we had all the proof needed but until it gets to a higher authority I won't win. He figures it will take about another 2 years.

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