Today, VA announced that it is closing a gap in survivor benefits for certain survivors of LGBTQ+ Veterans—specifically, for those who were unable to wed until the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision, and who, therefore, were not married to their now-deceased Veteran spouses for long enough to qualify for survivor benefits.

“VA is closing a gap in benefits for surviving spouses of LGBTQ+ Veterans, righting a wrong that is a legacy of the discriminatory federal ban on same-sex marriages,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “It is VA’s mission to serve all Veterans—including LGTBQ+ Veterans—as they’ve served our country, and this decision is a key part of that effort.”

Who will be impacted by this decision?

Due to bans on same-sex marriages, many LGBTQ+ Veterans were unable to get married until Obergefell v. Hodges (6/26/2015) despite being in “marriage-type” relationships long before that. This wrongly precluded many survivors of those LGBTQ+ Veterans from becoming eligible for survivor benefits because their Veteran spouse died before the marriage met VA’s length-of-marriage requirements (1 year for survivor benefits, 8 years for a higher rate of benefits).

This decision addresses that problem by counting the duration of marriage from when the surviving spouse can establish a “marriage-type” relationship—such as a commitment ceremony, joint banking account, or joint purchase of a house. Importantly, these benefits are not retroactive.

How do I apply for these benefits, and when will they take effect?

This decision is effective immediately, and survivors can apply now for these benefits. Eligible surviving spouses who apply in the next year will receive benefits backdated to October 11, 2022.

What other steps has VA taken recently for LGBTQ+ Veterans?

VA is committed to delivering world-class care and benefits to LGBTQ+ Veterans. As a part of this effort, last year, VA began providing benefits to Veterans who were given “Other Than Honorable” discharges due to their sexual orientation.

LGBTQ+ Veterans can learn more about VA’s current health care offerings on the LGBTQ+ Health Program website.

By Veterans Benefits Administration

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Published on Oct. 13, 2022

Estimated reading time is 1.7 min.

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8 Comments

  1. Deborah Johnston October 22, 2022 at 1:40 am

    Looking for employment at the new veterans hospital being built in Daytona Beach Florida. I’m a military spouse, husband served 28 years Army. I feel I can offer my skills working for our veterans. I just need to know who to contact.
    Thank you for any assistance you can provide.
    Deborah Johnston

    Living in Daytona Beach Florida.

  2. Axe October 19, 2022 at 10:32 pm

    So are the mods of this comment section are ok with someone saying that LBGTQ+ dependents getting the same benefits as others is “disgusting”? Which can easily be read as, “LBGTQ+ people are disgusting” – but when someone calls them out for their bigotry, what happens? deleted.

    COOL STORY Veterans Administration.

    [Editor: All comments go into a queue and are manually sorted during business hours.]

    • Axe October 20, 2022 at 7:39 pm

      “[Editor: All comments go into a queue and are manually sorted during business hours.]”

      Tracking. Thanks for dropping a word. It felt like it was being actively handled when I could see the “this comment is awaiting moderation” and then that was suddenly gone, along with the comment. Which, as you can imagine, would have pretty alarming optics. Yesterday was a bad day and I was in a take no sht mood.

      [Editor: Unfortunately, the Wordpress platform doesn’t give us a better option that is also safe. We get 3x as much spam as we do real comments. And, even with the real comments, some of them have SSNs and personal info, or need routing to the VCL. No way to automate that, so it’s me, a Veteran btw, directing it.]

  3. Jason October 19, 2022 at 10:19 pm

    Awesome. We all bleed red. Veterans are Veterans and patriots… period.

  4. toni washington October 13, 2022 at 5:32 pm

    As an LGBTQ+ Veteran and VSO, this is AWESOME!! Baby steps but still forward movement!

  5. Tim B. October 13, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    This is sickening.

    • Axe October 19, 2022 at 10:14 pm

      We fought for the freedom of all Americans. They did too. Their families should receive the same benefits as all the rest of us.

    • Jason October 19, 2022 at 10:20 pm

      Nothing sickening about it. We all bleed red.

Comments are closed.

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