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SGT. SHAFT: What would widow be entitled to?

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

After 18 years, 7 months and 25 days of service, over 20 years for pay purposes, I was in 1975, due to combat wounds, retired to the U.S. Navy's P.D.L. (Permanent Disabled Retirement List) with a disability rating of 50 percent. I opted to receive payment from the V.A.

In 1982 I got married. Since then my disability rating has increased to 60 percent with individual unemployability and I am receiving CRDP (Compensation Retirement Disability Payments).

My question is twofold.

• Which, if either, of these sources if income would my wife be eligible for upon my death?

• If eligible, what must she do to receive any payments she may be entitled to?

Thank you for any information that you may provide.

Respectfully,
Robert L. U.S.N. Ret.
Via the Internet

Dear Robert:

My sources provided the following answer to your questions:

Mr. L. indicated that he is currently in receipt of service-connected disability compensation and he is also in receipt of total disability based on individual unemployability. VA disability compensation terminates upon death of the Veteran. However, his spouse may submit a claim for death benefits, specifically Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), and subsequently receive benefits in her own right. As of December 1, 2008, the basic rate for DIC benefits is $1,154.00 per month, tax-free.

In order to be eligible for DIC benefits, the evidence must show that Mr. L's death is related to his service-connected disabilities. DIC may also be granted if Mr. L was in receipt of, or entitled to receive, total service connected disability benefits for a period of 10 years immediately preceding his death. If DIC is not payable, VA death pension is also available for surviving spouses of veterans with service during a wartime period having low income.

To apply for VA death benefits, individuals should complete a VA Form 21-534, Application for DIC, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits, and submit this form to his/her local VA Regional Office (VARO).

For more information on VA death benefits, please visit VA's web page online and go to Veterans Services, Survivor Benefits, or click here: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/dependents/spouse.htm.

Shaft notes

For the 13th consecutive year, FRA (Fleet Reserve Association) recognized top Marine Corps enlisted personnel by participating in two awards ceremonies at Quantico MCB, Va. FRA staff members presented awards to the Marine Corps Recruiting Command's 2010 Staff Non-Commissioned Officers in Charge and Prior Service Recruiters Staff Non-Commissioned Officers in Charge in recognition of their outstanding service. Marine Corps leadership was represented by Major General Ronald L. Bailey, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruiting Command and Sgt. Maj. Michael Logan, sergeant major of Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

Similar awards were presented to additional Marine Corps' top performers during the follow-on 2010 Combined Awards Program. This annual ceremony recognizes the Marine Corps' top Recruiters, Drill Instructors (DI), Marine Corps Embassy Security Guards (MSG), Career Retention Specialists and Combat Instructors (CI). Bailey and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent presided at this ceremony. FRA hosted a reception following the presentations.

USMC Award Recipients (Winners annotated with *)

Staff Non-Commissioned Officers in Charge
Gunnery Sgt. Demone J. Johnson -- 1st Marine Corps District
*Gunnery Sgt. Rosana M. Gregory -- 4th Marine Corps District
Staff Sgt. Larry W. Thompson -- 6th Marine Corps District
Staff Sgt. Jose L. Vega -- 8th Marine Corps District
Staff Sgt. Michael Sodergren -- 9th Marine Corps District
Gunnery Sgt. Andrew Sharp -- 12th Marine Corps District

Prior Service Recruiters Staff Non-Commissioned Officers in Charge
Gunnery Sgt. Dennis M. McKerrow -- 1st Marine Corps District
Gunnery Sgt. Amaraegbu Ozurumba -- 4th Marine Corps District
Gunnery Sgt. Juan G. Hernandez -- 6th Marine Corps District
Gunnery Sgt. Mario F. Cruz -- 8th Marine Corps District
*Gunnery Sgt. Eduardo R. Monk -- 12th Marine Corps District

Recruiter of the Year
*Staff Sgt. Gerson G. Ruiz -- 4th Marine Corps District (meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sgt.)
Staff Sgt. Kory A. Hampton -- 9th Marine Corps District

Prior Service Recruiter of the Year
*Staff Sgt. Brandon L. Johnson -- 4th Marine Corps District (meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sgt.)
Staff Sgt. Jose D. Torresdeavila -- 9th Marine Corps District

Drill Instructor of the Year
*Staff Sgt. Michael A. Saldana -- Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif.
Staff Sgt. Scott A. Jackson -- Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C.

Marine Combat Instructor of the Year
*Gunnery Sgt. Michael E. Childs -- School of Infantry West, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Staff Sgt. Richard D. Romano II -- School of Infantry East, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Marine Security Guard of the Year
*Sgt. W. R. Frame, Jr. -- American Embassy, Beijing (meritoriously promoted to Staff Sgt.)
Gunnery Sgt. Mark S. Suto -- American Embassy, Greece

Career Retention Specialist of the Year
*Staff Sgt. Esteban Rodriguez -- 2d Batt, 8th Marine Reg, 2d Marine Div, Camp Lejeune, N.C. (meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sgt.)
Staff Sgt. Brian S. Callendar -- 2d Assault Amphibian Batt, 2d Marine Div, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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