Helping the Survivors of ALS Veterans
By PVA National Staff
Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) along with Representatives Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) recently introduced legislation to help ensure surviving spouses and families of veterans who die from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) receive the full benefits they are due.
- 3091 and H.R. 4747, the Justice for ALS Veterans Act of 2019, would entitle Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) eligible survivors of veterans who died of service-connected ALS to an additional $246 per month in DIC. The extra payment is commonly referred to in the veterans community as the “DIC kicker.”
Under current law, the higher rate of DIC is only payable if the veteran was rated totally disabled for a continuous period of at least eight years immediately preceding death. VA regulations recognize ALS as a presumptive service-connected disease and, due to its aggressive nature, it is automatically rated at 100 percent once service connected. However, because the average life expectancy for a person with ALS is two to five years, many spouses of deceased veterans with ALS rarely qualify for the additional DIC benefit given the eight-year requirement.
PVA Chapters and members are encouraged to contact their elected officials during the holidays and ask them to support this important legislation.