The Norman Transcript

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May 15, 2013

Surviving spouses encouraged to seek assistance with Veterans Corner

NORMAN — All of you who have stopped by Veterans Corner on a Thursday morning will recognize the volunteer of the week.

Ray Stelting, of Tuttle, has been with us for three years. His primary job has been keeping the coffee prepared for the 100-plus men and women who we see each Thursday morning. Ray is the first to start and one of the last to leave each week. He is always ready to help with any job that we may have. Ray is married to Diana, of the home, who supports his mission to support our veterans.

Last week, 107 veterans and surviving spouses stopped by for assistance with their VA claims and questions. Of this number, 13 widows needed help filing for DIC or pension benefits.

For the surviving spouses, I wanted to give them a little information that might help them to know if they could qualify for DIC benefits. If their veteran served where any atomic testing was done or helped with the cleanup and died of cancer or was ill with it, they may qualify for VA benefits. If the veteran and spouse are both deceased, their children or grandchildren may be eligible to receive a lump sum payment from the Justice Department.

For the spouses of veterans who served in Vietnam, there may be VA benefits that are payable to them from the Department of Veterans Affairs if they became ill or died from any of the presumptive diseases caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

Another disability that might be presumptive for some would be lung cancer or COPD for veterans who served aboard Navy ships and were exposed to asbestos. Some surviving spouses could qualify for a VA pension that is based on income. For those who are in assisted living, nursing homes or who have people assisting them at home, aid and attendance benefits may be available from VA.

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