Why should you check your records to see if your spouse is included in your VA profile? Well to start with, at 30 percent service-connected, there is an additional amount added to your compensation. This is not the spouse’s benefit but rather an increase to the veteran; spouses do not collect the veteran’s compensation.

The greatest benefit of having the spouse included in the veteran’s profile comes when my duties shift to supporting the veteran’s surviving spouse. Each case is different but there are a few constants in all claims.

Documentation of marriages and previous divorces, along with updated medical records, are critical. When the spouse is included in the veteran’s profile when there is a survivor’s claim - either Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) or Survivors Pension - the claim is able to proceed forward.

When the spouse is not included in the records, we must first establish the dependency, which requires submitting records and requires more time, not something the surviving spouse really wants to be involved with. While it is true not every surviving spouse is eligible for the current programs, the law is constantly changing, as demonstrated recently with the reversal of a Vietnam Blue Water Navy decision.

Dealing with the government being ahead of the game is the wisest course of action. If you wish to update your records or just check on status, give me a call. As always, at your service.

Charles B. Elliott is the county veteran services officer for Franklin County. He can be reached at 653-8096, by cellphone at 653-7051, or by email to Veteranservice@franklincountyflorida.com