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Accrued Benefits

Did you know that veterans’ survivors may continue Accrued Benefits claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)?

Accrued benefits are benefits due to a beneficiary on a claim for benefits or evidence in the claim file at the date of the death, but not paid prior to death. Examples of accrued benefits include:

• A claim or appeal for a benefit was pending at the time of the beneficiary’s death and all of the evidence needed for a favorable decision was in the veteran's file on the date of death; or

• A claim for a benefit had not been allowed, but the beneficiary died before the award action could be taken; or

• At the time of the beneficiary’s death, one or more benefits checks had neither been deposited nor negotiated.

Generally, the VA pays the accrued benefit based on the claimant’s relationship to the deceased veteran in the following order:

• Surviving spouse (paid in full);

• Veteran’s dependent children, including ages 18-23 attending school or children found helpless (paid in equal shares);

• Parents (both, if determined to be dependent parents on the date of the veteran’s death, paid in equal shares);

• Sole surviving parent (if determined to be a dependent parent on the date of the veteran’s death, paid in full).

Succession in regards to entitlement to accrued benefits is established by law. If a preferred beneficiary fails to file or pursue a claim, the VA will not permit payment of benefits to a person with an equal or lower preference. A waiver of right also does not permit such payment.

If there are no living persons who may be entitled to accrued benefits on the basis of relationship, the VA will pay accrued benefits to reimburse the person responsible for paying for the veteran’s last illness and burial expenses.

Another accrued benefit is called Substitution. If a veteran or other claimant dies while the claim or appeal is pending, a person eligible to receive accrued benefits may request to substitute for the veteran or other claimant to process the claim or appeal through to completion. There are time limits to apply for Substitution.

If you need assistance or have other questions regarding Accrued Benefits, you may contact our office with your questions.

Ken Cruickshank, the Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County, is a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. Contact him at the Veterans Services Office at 3348 W. Mineral King Ave., Visalia; by phone at (559) 713-2880; or by email at


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