NORMAN — This week, we are recognizing a husband and wife team who spend many of their Thursday mornings volunteering at the Goldsby Community Center. Marilyn and Steve Higgins have been with us for several years helping veterans and surviving spouses receive VA benefits they are entitled to receive.
Marilyn has worn many hats since she joined the organization, serving as the person who researches prior decisions made by the Board of Veterans Appeals. She also assists surviving spouses with their claims for DIC or pension benefits. Steve takes care of the donations that are made by the men and women we assist each week.
Last week, 90 men and women braved the cold to make the trip to Goldsby for assistance from volunteers. Of that number, 15 were veterans, both male and female, who filed their first claims for VA benefits.
Many of the veterans and surviving spouses are filing what is called an “informal claim for benefits.” This is used to give the person filing the claim a start date while they are obtaining evidence and documentation, such as a DBQ, in support of their informal claim.
They will have up to a year to complete their claim forms. By doing this when their claim is approved, their compensation will be paid back one month after the filing date. The VA compensation is just like many employers; they always keep you a month behind on your wages. With the new VA forms that are now available, the time it takes for the VA to make a decision should be shortened to 180 days or less.
For those veterans who have Internet access, I urge you to log in to the VA website to set up a premium account on e-Benefits. This will enable you to upload evidence and check on the status of claims.