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Atomic Veterans


atomicwidow

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administrator: can you please start this as a new topic under "specialized claims" not under DIC? Thanks, I can't see where to do that.

I'm a widow of an atomic vet (died 9/2013, USN, onsite for several atmospheric nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands, Operation Castle). I'm wading my way through the applications for surviving spouse VA benefits. I'm hoping to learn more and share what I know about RECA (Radiation Exposure Compensation Act). I've already received the RECA award because my husband's cancer was on the the DoJ/RECA "presumptive" list. I believe that will establish his death as 100% service connected for the VA and open the door for DIC, CHAMPVA and other minor benefits. I'm 5 months in to that claim. Anyone know how long this type of claim will take?

Anyone have wisdom to share? I know quite a bit about the RECA application process and criteria, so maybe I can be a resource to anyone with RECA questions.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

First, I'm sorry for your loss. If he was 100%, for the 10 yrs prior to his death, his death would automatically be considered service-connected (SC). As it's taken this long, already, I'll assume that's not the case. Hopefully, you had an autopsy but if not, the physician who signed the death certificate should have listed his atomic related cancer as the primary or secondary cause of death. If he had a private physician, they will often sign the death certificate.

To everyone out there: I suggest that if your veteran dies at a VA hospital you should be sure to get an independent autopsy. VA doctors are not above stating that they died due to conditions other than SC. jmo

pr

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Yeah! Great advice.......we had a widow here recently and a VA PA or nurse signed the death certificate ( legal in many states) and stated the cause of death was 'unknown' or 'undetermined' forget the exact words......

I referred her to John Dorley (Dr Bash's assistant) because a strong IMO could potentially define the cause of death better and attribute it to his SC condition.

However there had been no autopsy done ,which would have helped considerably.

Atomic widow, as far as I know this is still the VA M21-1MR version of how they determine DIC awards in this type of claim:



d. Initiating and Directing Authorization Action in RECA Payment Cases


When a veteran or surviving dependent files a claim under RECA

· the Department of Justice initially contacts VA Central Office (CO), C&P Service, Advisory Review (211) staff, and
· the Advisory Review staff then
- contacts the appropriate Veterans Service Center Manager, and
- directs specific authorization actions"
(M21-1MR , Part III, Sunsection V, Chapter 4, Section F)

Source http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.benefits.va.gov%2Fwarms%2Fdocs%2Fadmin21%2Fm21_1%2Fmr%2Fpart3%2Fsubptv%2Fch04%2Fch04_secf.doc&ei=O3vnU9T5DO7O8QHdn4G4BQ&usg=AFQjCNH0Vc-T8Zic48rP4jGOMA54SgwKCQ&bvm=bv.72676100,d.b2U


All of that can take time. Perhaps you could get a status on the claim via IRIS, the "Contact Us ...Ask a Question) section on the VA web site's main page.

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PR & Berta,

Thanks for the replies, it's helpful to have the VA M21-1MR reference.

He was not 100% SC prior to death; as soon as he was diagnosed with a cancer on the RECA presumptive list in 8/2013 we submitted the RECA application to DoJ. Because he died while that claim was pending, I had to re-submit as surviving spouse; did that in 10/2013. I received the RECA award 2/2014 and applied for DIC & CHAMPVA in 3/2014.

In 7/2014, I went on IRIS and requested a status on the claim. I scheduled a phone appt; I was told the SSN on his application I submitted didn't match their records and I needed to send in his SS card and other official documents/statements listing his name and SSN. I went to our local SS office, got the documents (same SSN!) and faxed them to the number I was given during my phone call with the VA rep. I sent that fax on 7/27/14.

I figured that since DoJ adjudicated his death as SC and awarded me the RECA payment, that clearly establishes SC for the VA. Perhaps I'm impatient and just need to chill out a while? Any "guesstimate" how long this type of claim may take?

thanks.

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