Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax-free monthly cash benefit paid to eligible survivors of military Servicemembers who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
The US Code of Law states:
A surviving spouse of a qualifying veteran who died as a result of a service‐connected disability is entitled to receive dependency and indemnity compensation. 38 U.S.C.A. § 1310; 38 C.F.R. § 3.312.
The US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) further clarifies this law:
The death of a veteran will be considered as having been due to a service‐connected disability when the evidence establishes that such disability was either the principal or a contributory cause of death. The service‐connected disability will be considered as the principal (primary) cause of death when such disability, singly or jointly with some other condition, was the immediate or underlying cause of death or was etiologically related thereto. 38 C.F.R. § 3.312(b).
Contributory cause of death is inherently one not related to the principal cause. In determining whether the service‐connected disability contributed to death, it must be shown that it contributed substantially or materially; that it combined to cause death; that it aided or lent assistance to the production of death. It is not sufficient to show that it casually shared in producing death, but rather it must be shown that there was a causal connection. 38 C.F.R. § 3.312(c)(1).
There are primary causes of death which by their very nature are so overwhelming that eventual death can be anticipated irrespective of coexisting conditions, but, even in such cases, there is for consideration whether there may be a reasonable basis for holding that a service connected condition was of such severity as to have a material influence in accelerating death. In this situation, however, it would not generally be reasonable to hold that a service‐connected condition accelerated death unless such condition affected a vital organ and was of itself of a progressive or debilitating nature. 38 C.F.R. § 3.312(c)(4).
Remember even if the cause of death was not a service-connected disability, the VA will consider whether any service-connected disability was a contributory cause to a Veteran's passing with a proper medical opinion. In many cases, service-connection for diabetes, heart issues, hypertension, and other diseases that affect the vital organs, including cancers and related treatment, must be given special attention.
Far too often, I represent veterans who need a medical opinion or supporting statements that are not in the file. Other times, a failure on behalf of the VA needs to be pointed out and addressed. Do not risk losing your case due to substandard representation.
Call me today at 800-861-7262 for a free consultation or fill out the contact box.