Marriage & Military-Veteran Benefits

Who is considered a spouse for purposes of VA benefits?

To be recognized as a spouse of a Veteran for purposes of VA benefits and services, the marriage must be…

To be recognized as a spouse of a Veteran for purposes of VA benefits and services, the marriage must be recognized under the law of the place where at least one of the parties resided at the time of marriage, or the law of the place where at least one of the parties resided when the claim or application was filed, or at a later date when the eligibility requirements were met. This requirement comes from one of the Federal laws that govern VA, 38 U.S.C. § 103(c). Additional guidance on determining whether VA can recognize a marriage for the purpose of Veterans' benefits can be found at www.va.gov/opa/marriage/.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What supporting evidence do I have to submit with my claim or application to add my spouse as a dependent?

VA will require the same amount of evidence for claims and applications involving same-sex marriage as claims based on opposite-sex…

VA will require the same amount of evidence for claims and applications involving same-sex marriage as claims based on opposite-sex marriage. Generally, VA will accept a claimant's or applicant's assertion that he or she is married as sufficient evidence to establish a Veteran's marriage for the purpose of VA benefits and services. However, consistent with current policy (applicable to all marriage-based benefits), VA may continue to pursue further development if an assertion concerning a marriage appears unreliable, but will not treat assertions regarding same-sex marriages as inherently suspect for this purpose.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What does a claimant's or applicant's "assertion" entail?

VA generally accepts a claimant or applicant's assertion that he or she is married as sufficient evidence to establish a…

VA generally accepts a claimant or applicant's assertion that he or she is married as sufficient evidence to establish a Veteran's marriage for the purpose of VA benefits. In asserting a spousal relationship, claimants and applicants are responsible for determining whether their marriages may be recognized by VA. To assist claimants and applicants in making such determinations, VA is publicizing the section 103(c) standard through form instructions, web pages, and other means so that claimants and applicants are aware of when VA can recognize their marriage.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

Will VA pay retroactive compensation and pension benefits for claims involving same-sex spouses? What will be the effective date?

For the purpose of assigning an effective date for a compensation or pension claim, if the claim was pending as…

For the purpose of assigning an effective date for a compensation or pension claim, if the claim was pending as of September 4, 2013 (the date of the President's directive), the effective date will be assigned as if the laws barring VA's recognition of same-sex marriage had never been in effect. In some instances, this could mean an effective date as early as the date of marriage or as early as when VA received the claim..

 

For the purpose of assigning an effective date for a compensation or pension claim that was not pending as of September 4, 2013, provided that the claimant met all of the eligibility requirements for the benefit by that date, and the claim was received within the following year, VA generally will assign an effective date of September 4, 2013. For claims received more than one year after September 4, 2103, if the claimant met all eligibility requirements on that date, VA may assign an effective date up to one year prior to the date of the claim. This provides a grace period for persons who were previously ineligible for benefits under the law to learn of the President's directive, and to submit claims and applications based on that change.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

Does VA apply different requirements when evaluating my same-sex marriage? Will VA apply different requirements to a same-sex marriage?

VA recognizes marriages, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, that meet the requirements of 38 U.S.C. § 103(c). If eligibility is based…

VA recognizes marriages, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, that meet the requirements of 38 U.S.C. § 103(c). If eligibility is based on a Veteran's marital status, the marriage must be recognized by the place where the Veteran or the Veteran's spouse resided at the time of the marriage, or where the couple resided when they filed the claim(or at a later date when the eligibility requirements were met) per section 103(c).

 

VA will require the same amount of evidence for claims and applications involving same-sex marriage as claims based on opposite-sex marriage. Generally, VA will accept a claimant's or applicant's assertion that he or she is married as sufficient evidence to establish a Veteran's marriage for the purpose of VA benefits and services. However, consistent with current policy, VA may continue to pursue further development if an assertion concerning a marriage appears unreliable, but will not treat assertions regarding same-sex marriages as inherently suspect for this purpose.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

I filed my claim or application the day after the Attorney General's announcement in September and still haven't received a decision? Why?

Following the Attorney General's announcement of the President's directive of September 4, 2013, VA generally held claims or applications involving…

Following the Attorney General's announcement of the President's directive of September 4, 2013, VA generally held claims or applications involving same-sex marriages as VA worked with the Department of Justice to develop guidance to process those claims and applications under a clear and consistent standard. VA will begin processing these claims and applications on June 20, 2014.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

Can I transfer my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to my same-sex spouse, even if my marriage is not recognized for the purpose of other VA benefits and services?

Yes, if all other eligibility requirements for transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are met. For those benefits where eligibility…

Yes, if all other eligibility requirements for transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are met. For those benefits where eligibility is based on something other than an individual's Veteran status, VA may recognize marriages that have been recognized by the Department of Defense (DOD). VA's legal requirements regarding marriage recognition do not apply to transfers of Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits because an individual's eligibility to transfer this education benefit is based on the individual being a member of the uniformed services with a specific amount of qualifying service.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if I currently live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage?

If you reside in a state that recognizes your same-sex marriage at the time that you filed your claim or…

If you reside in a state that recognizes your same-sex marriage at the time that you filed your claim or application, your marriage will be recognized for the purpose of VA benefits and services.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if I resided in a state that recognized same-sex marriage at the time I was married?

Your marriage will be recognized for the purpose of VA benefits and services.

Your marriage will be recognized for the purpose of VA benefits and services.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if I have never lived in a state that recognized same-sex marriage, but I traveled to a recognition state to marry?

Federal law, 38 U.S.C. § 103(c), precludes VA from recognizing your marriage. Under section 103(c), VA may recognize marriages that…

Federal law, 38 U.S.C. § 103(c), precludes VA from recognizing your marriage. Under section 103(c), VA may recognize marriages that are recognized under the law of the place where the parties resided at the time of marriage, or the law of the place where the parties resided when the claim or application was filed, or at a later date when the eligibility requirements were met. Your marriage would not meet these requirements because it is not recognized according to the law of either the place where you or your spouse resided at the time of the marriage or the place where you and/or your spouse resided when you filed your claim or application (or a later date when you became eligible for benefits).

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

Does VA recognize common law marriages?

VA will recognize a common law marriage provided the state in which they reside recognizes common law marriage, and the…

VA will recognize a common law marriage provided the state in which they reside recognizes common law marriage, and the state's requirements for a common law marriage are met.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

How long do I have to live in a state for VA to consider the state my residence?

In order for a state or other jurisdiction to be considered the place where you reside, you must live in…

In order for a state or other jurisdiction to be considered the place where you reside, you must live in the place continuously for a reasonable period of time, or have moved there with the intent to remain for, at least, a reasonable period of time. This would not include a visit to or a temporary stay in a location. On the other hand, a temporary absence from a place where you ordinarily live would not defeat the finding that you reside in that place.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

Can I have more than one place of residence?

Yes. In certain situations, an individual may reside in more than one place at a time. For example, it is…

Yes. In certain situations, an individual may reside in more than one place at a time. For example, it is possible for a Servicemember to reside in the place where he or she is stationed, but also remain a resident of another place where he or she ordinarily lives. VA will look at the law of both places and use the more favorable law in determining whether your marriage can be recognized for the purpose of VA benefits and services.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if my spouse and I lived in different places when we were married?

If you and your spouse resided in different places at the time of your marriage, the law of either place,…

If you and your spouse resided in different places at the time of your marriage, the law of either place, whichever is more favorable, may be used in determining whether your marriage can be recognized for the purpose of VA benefits and services.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if my home state changed its laws to recognize same-sex marriage after I traveled to be married somewhere else?

If you previously filed a claim or application for VA benefits or services and your claim or application was denied…

If you previously filed a claim or application for VA benefits or services and your claim or application was denied because VA was precluded by the law of your home state from recognizing your marriage, you may reapply for the benefit or service based on the recent change in that law. For any claim filed after the change in the state law, VA's recognition will be based on the current law as long as the state continues to be the claimant's or applicant's place of residence.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if I move to a state that recognizes same-sex marriage while my claim or application is pending?

If you and your spouse lived in a state that did not recognize same-sex marriage when you were married and…

If you and your spouse lived in a state that did not recognize same-sex marriage when you were married and lived in a state that did not recognized same-sex marriage at the time you filed your claim, but then you moved to a state that does recognize same-sex marriage while your claim was pending, your marriage would be recognized for the purpose of Veterans' benefits based on the law of your new place of residence.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if I move to a state that recognizes same-sex marriage after my claim or application was denied?

You may file a new claim or application based on your new residence.

You may file a new claim or application based on your new residence.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if I got married outside of the United States?

The law requires VA to recognize marriages for VA purposes according to the law of the place where the parties…

The law requires VA to recognize marriages for VA purposes according to the law of the place where the parties resided, not the law of the place where the marriage was celebrated. Thus, whether VA could recognize your marriage for VA purposes would depend on whether the place where you or your spouse resided at the time of the marriage or the place where you or your spouse resided when you filed your claim (or a later date when you became eligible for benefits) would recognize your marriage.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if I resided outside of the United States at the time of my marriage or when I filed my claim?

VA would consider the law of the foreign jurisdiction in determining if your marriage meets the requirements of section 103(c)…

VA would consider the law of the foreign jurisdiction in determining if your marriage meets the requirements of section 103(c) and can be recognized for the purpose of VA benefits and services.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

The Department of Defense recognized my marriage-will VA?

It depends. For certain benefits where eligibility is based on something other than an individual's Veteran status (e.g. Servicemembers' Group…

It depends. For certain benefits where eligibility is based on something other than an individual's Veteran status (e.g. Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI), Family SGLI, transfers of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, and Dependents' Educational Assistance benefits that are established based on a relationship to a Servicemember), VA may recognize marriages that are recognized by the Department of Defense (DoD).

 

However, for most other spousal benefits and services provided by VA, the law only permits VA to recognize a marriage if the law of the place where the Veteran or the Veteran's spouse resided at the time of the marriage or the place where the Veteran or the Veteran's spouse resided when they filed the claim (or a later date when you became eligible for benefits) would recognize your marriage. Accordingly, in most instances, VA cannot rely upon DoD's recognition of a marriage, but must apply the law governing recognition of marriages for VA benefits and services. In some instances, this law may preclude VA from recognizing a marriage that was previously recognized by DoD for the purpose of DoD benefits and services.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if VA has recognized my marriage for a different benefit?

Once VA has recognized a marriage for the purpose of a VA benefit or service, it will usually recognize it…

Once VA has recognized a marriage for the purpose of a VA benefit or service, it will usually recognize it for other benefits or services unless there is a factual change in marital status, such as through judicial action.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What if I move to a state that recognizes same-sex marriage after my Veteran spouse dies?

If you are a surviving spouse and reside in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage at the time that you…

If you are a surviving spouse and reside in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage at the time that you file your claim for benefits or services, VA will recognize your marriage based on the law of your current place of residence.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

I am a Veteran enrolled in VA health care. Will this change in the law affect my eligibility?

Enrollment of Veterans in Priority Groups 5, 7, and 8 is based on income of the Veteran and the Veteran's…

Enrollment of Veterans in Priority Groups 5, 7, and 8 is based on income of the Veteran and the Veteran's spouse. For Veterans in these priority groups, the impact of VA recognizing a same-sex spouse and including spousal income will vary. For example, inclusion of a spouse's income may result in the Veteran being moved to a lower priority group (e.g. 5 to 8) and being required to pay copayments for care the Veteran receives.

 

Recognition of a same-sex spouse could also result in the Veteran being moved to a higher priority group, for example, if the spouse does not have income to report. The inclusion of spousal income would not result in a Veteran who is currently enrolled in VA health care being disenrolled. Information on income thresholds is available here www.va.gov/healthbenefits/cost/income_thresholds.asp.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

I am considering applying for VA health care or previously applied for VA health care and was denied based on income. Will this change in the law affect my eligibility?

For Veterans who are not currently enrolled in VA health care, it is possible that recognition of a same-sex spouse…

For Veterans who are not currently enrolled in VA health care, it is possible that recognition of a same-sex spouse and inclusion of spousal income could either render the Veteran eligible to enroll or preclude the Veteran from being eligible to enroll. This will depend on the impact of the spousal income on the couple's household income relative to the applicable income threshold. Information on income thresholds is available here http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/cost/income_thresholds.asp.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

If my marriage is recognized for the purposes of VA benefits, what benefits may I be eligible for?

To learn more about VA benefits, go to http://www.va.gov/opa/newtova.asp.

To learn more about VA benefits, go to http://www.va.gov/opa/newtova.asp.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

What benefits may my spouse be eligible for?

To learn more about VA benefits for dependents and survivors, go to www.va.gov/opa/persona/dependent_survivor.asp and www.va.gov/hac/forbeneficiaries/champva/champva.asp

To learn more about VA benefits for dependents and survivors, go to www.va.gov/opa/persona/dependent_survivor.asp and www.va.gov/hac/forbeneficiaries/champva/champva.asp

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

Will VA recognize my domestic partnership or civil union for purposes of VA benefits?

For purposes of VA benefits and services, VA will recognize as marriages only those relationships that are recognized as "marriages"…

For purposes of VA benefits and services, VA will recognize as marriages only those relationships that are recognized as "marriages" under state law.

 

It will not recognize a domestic partnership or civil union that is not recognized as a "marriage" under state law as a marriage for VA purposes. For requests for burial in a VA national cemetery only, an individual in a domestic partnership or civil union may request that the Secretary designate the decedent as eligible under 38 U.S.C. § 2402(a)(6). National Cemetery Administration (NCA) staff will advise the applicant of this option.

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan

Can VA confirm that the surviving same-sex spouse of a deceased Veteran, who is already interred in a VA national cemetery, will be eligible for interment with the Veteran?

VA determines eligibility for burial and memorial benefits at an individual's time of need. We recommend gathering and maintaining information…

VA determines eligibility for burial and memorial benefits at an individual's time of need. We recommend gathering and maintaining information that may be helpful to VA in determining eligibility for interment at the appropriate time. For more information, please refer to the NCA website and the fact sheet "Arranging Burial in a NationalCemetery."

Posted 11 months agoby Kristijan