Lou Gehrig's Disease - Motor Neuron Disease - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Thought it had been cured by now? Still no known cause. Still no cure. Still quickly fatal. Still outrageous.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pssst... Why Is This ALS Tidbit Such A Well Kept Secret?

Following is from the PVA Minnesota Chapter (May, 2009) newsletter:

National Service Officer’s Report – Tami Andersen
Survivor’s Benefits for Widows of Veterans that passed from ALS

What are the benefits that a widow/widower can receive?
During an already difficult time for a widow/widower when their spouse passes away so quickly from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), there is some comfort to know that there are benefits from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) to assist them. When the primary or contributory reason for death is a service connected disability or disease; the widow/widower may be eligible for the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or DIC for short, benefit. The DIC benefit is a monthly monetary award that is paid the first of every month for the previous month of benefit. Currently that amount is $1,154.00; with an additional monetary benefit for dependents and/or the need for aid and attendance.
Two other benefits are the burial and plot benefits. The VA currently will pay $2,000.00 to a widow/widower as a burial benefit and $300.00 as a plot allowance benefit.

What paperwork is needed to submit a claim for DIC and Burial/Plot

A VA form 21-534 “Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by aSurviving Spouse or Child” will need to be completed. Along with the VA form 21-534; a certified copy of the veteran’s DD214 (discharge document), a copy of the death certificate of the veteran stating the primary and contributory reasons for death, and a copy of the marriage certificate will need to be enclosed. A VA form 21-530 “Application for Burial Benefits” will need to be completed; along with the VA form 21-530; an itemized paid statement/invoice from the funeral home and a statement/invoice for the plot cost will need to be enclosed.

What is the time frame for filing a claim?
The law for service connection of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) became effective September 23, 2008. Therefore, if a veteran passed away from ALS before September 23, 2008, the effective date is September 23, 2008. Otherwise, when a surviving spouse submits a claim within one year of veteran’s death; the claim will be effective the date of death. If the claim is submitted after the one year period of date of death, the claim will be effective the date of claim.

How to get started?

Contact your local Paralyzed Veteran’s of America National Service Officer (NSO) to set up a meeting to complete the paperwork. The NSO will need to have a VA form 21-22, “Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s
Representative” completed by the surviving spouse in order to submit and monitor the claim on your behalf. Once the claim has been submitted, the NSO will track it through the VA process to be sure it gets completed in a timely manner and is accurate. Contact your NSO at 612-970-5988 or 1-800-795-3609 with any questions throughout and after completion of the claim.

If I'm understanding this correctly, if Grandma was a Navy nurse during WW II and died many years later from ALS, Grandpa may be eligible for some benefits. If Uncle Joe served in Viet Nam and died from ALS many years later, then Aunt Jane, his widow, may be eligible for some help. If Cousin Mary served in Nebraska and died from ALS ten years ago, then her widower Cousin Mike may be eligible for benefits.

Widows and widowers of PALS who died many years ago should get their claims in by September 23 in order to maximize their benefits!

If I'm not understanding this correctly, I'll welcome some enlightenment.

This could be a huge help to many widows and widowers who may not have a clue that they are entitled to the benefit. Please help spread the word.


  1. Many of the national walks and fundraisers attract people who may have been out of touch for the last year but remember a loved one who was lost to ALS many years ago. Please encourage your local organizations to get this information to their lists of walkers!

  2. VA info is at (although not nearly as clear as that PVA newsletter. It appears that National Guard widows and widowers are included.

    Here is the contact info for PVA --

  3. ;-)