Veterans

June 26, 2014

VA provides guidance to same-sex married couples seeking benefits

WASHINGTON — After close consultation with the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is providing guidance to same-sex married couples on the benefits and services to which they are entitled under current laws and regulations.

“VA worked closely with DOJ to develop guidance to process cases involving same-sex marriages and to implement necessary changes swiftly and smoothly in order to deliver the best services to all eligible Veterans,” said Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which governed the definitions of “marriage” and “spouse” for all federal agencies. However, there remain certain provisions of federal law governing Veterans’ benefits and services that, like DOMA, define a spouse as a member of the opposite sex. In September 2013, the U.S. Attorney General announced President Obama’s directive to cease enforcement of those VA-specific definitional provisions.

However, another provision of the law governing VA – 38 U.S.C. § 103(c) – requires the Department to look to the place of residency rather than the place of celebration to determine whether a Veteran’s marriage is recognized for the purposes of VA benefits. This statutory requirement to look at the laws governing marriage in the place where the Veteran or Veteran’s spouse resided at the time of the marriage or at the time they filed their claim or application precludes VA from recognizing certain same-sex marriages, such as when a couple has never lived in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages. VA has worked with DOJ to develop guidance to process claims and applications for same-sex married couples while still following the statutory requirement to look to the place of residency.

VA is committed to treating all Veterans and their spouses as equally as possible under the law. Since the Windsor decision, VA has worked with DOJ to develop guidance to process claims and applications for same-sex married couples while still following the statutory requirement to look to the place of residency. Importantly, the administrations within VA will aim to apply the same level of scrutiny to all Veterans’ marriages, regardless of whether it is a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage. VA will therefore process claims and applications involving same-sex marriage in the same manner that VA processes claims based on opposite-sex marriage without any additional scrutiny or development. This means generally that VA will accept 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. VA has made efforts to ensure that claimants will not be negatively impacted as a result of the time that has passed while developing this guidance.

VA is now processing all claims and applications involving same-sex marriages that were previously being held by the program offices. VA launched a new website and is continuing to update forms to inform Veterans and beneficiaries of the recent changes in the law and procedures. The new website provides important information to help Veterans and beneficiaries understand the eligibility requirements under federal law and VA regulations, and answers frequently asked questions.

“Our commitment to provide all eligible Veterans and their families with their earned care and benefits will continue to be our focus as VA begins recognizing same-sex marriages to the extent the law will allow.” Gibson said. “We will work with lawmakers to address the changes that are necessary to allow all veterans and their families to access the benefits they have earned and deserve.”

Veterans can learn more about VA’s guidance regarding same-sex marriages at http://www.va.gov/opa/marriage/ or by reaching out to one of our Call Centers at 1-800-827-1000.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
headstones-with-flags-300-dpi

This Memorial Day, honor those who gave all

Courtesy photo   Memorial Day. A long weekend, barbeques, parades, door busting sales at the mall, and the un-official start of summer . . . With all the excitement of warmer weather and fun in the sun that come with Memor...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski)

Memorial Day weekend safety tips

Memorial Day weekend is coming up, for most service members that means getting on the road and traveling for the first long weekend of the summer. During this holiday weekend more people will be traveling, which makes it import...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski)

D-M law enforcement recognizes National Police Week

Law enforcement agencies at Davis-Monthan celebrated National Police Week here during the week of May 11-15. National Police Week focuses on remembering law enforcement officials who have lost their lives in the line of duty. T...
 

 

Final Total Force Training Environmental Assessment released

The final Environmental Assessment for Total Force Training, released here today by Air Combat Command, concludes a “Finding of No Significant Impact.” The Air Force will implement the proposed action alternative which places a cap on Total Force Training (formerly Operation Snowbird) flights at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base at 2,326 annual flights.  Officials state that...
 
 

Commissaries continue rolling out in-store Wi-Fi

FORT LEE, Va. – Sixteen more stores will offer Wi-Fi access for commissary patrons between June and September, according to the Defense Commissary Agency’s follow-up schedule. Through the Commissary Patron Internet Mobile System, DeCA is gradually opening customer Wi-Fi access at all stateside commissaries to include Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The latest schedule covers the...
 
 

The difference between Memorial and Veterans Day

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) — There are lots of reminders out there that Memorial Day is about more than a day off or barbecue. It’s also about more than thanking everyone who served or waving flags. The truth is, many people confuse this day with Veterans Day. This day is about one thing...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin