31 July 2015

Correction: C-123 Widows NOT abandoned by VA Interim Final Agent Orange Rule

This is an honor I've had to do twice. It is very hard. I wouldn't
like to turn to a C-123 widow and tell her VA has decided to
abandon her, which is exactly what VA has done.
From Huffington Post (Lynne Peebles, reporter) July 21,2015:

"Meagan Lutz, a spokeswoman with the VA, confirmed that the new help is only available beginning on June 19, when the rule was published, or from the subsequent filing date. Widows of C-123 veterans, she said, will not be eligible for the disability compensation." 

In an email from VA to the Vietnam Veterans of America, this "clarification" was offered late on Friday, July 31:
"I don’t know what the source of the below communication was but it is not correct.  As we discussed during our meetings with VSOs on the C-123 rulemaking, the survivor of a covered C-123 crew member would be entitled to DIC if the cause of the crew member’s death is service connected.  We would make that determination based upon a survivor’s DIC claim that is pending on or after the effective date of the regulation.  With respect to prior denials, there is nothing that prevents a survivor from reopening a claim based upon the new regulation.  To the extent that the communication alleges that we have unlawfully denied retroactive benefits, section 5110(g) of title 38, United States Code, is clear that the effective date of any award of benefits pursuant to the regulation cannot be earlier than the date that we issued it."

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