Accrued benefits are available to survivors of deceased Veterans. Typically, this involves a surviving spouse. If a Veteran had a pending claim at the time of his death, a surviving spouse can substitute for the deceased Veteran and obtain the accrued benefits. For example, if a Veteran had a claim for total disability pending at the time of his death, the surviving spouse could substitute and complete the claim and obtain what back-pay benefits would have been payable to the Veteran at the time of his death.
The concept of substitution is a very important one. There is an advantage to having a surviving spouse substitute for the disabled Veteran. If he/she substituted for the disabled Veteran, he/she would be able to stand in the shoes of the Veteran and then obtain additional evidence to support the claim. Otherwise, the surviving spouse would be limited to the evidence that existed in the claims file at the time of the Veteran’s death. If you have recently been denied a claim for accrued benefits or service-connection for the cause of death, we invite you to contact our office to discuss whether we may be able to help you.