Suicide as Cause of Death Can Change the Benefits
Veteran families of soldier suicide have all seen the death certificates that list the cause of death as suicide. It’s a heartbreaker, but it’s also causes financial issues. It’s not fair to the veteran, it’s not fair to the families and we are doing something about it.
Death records are the official documents issued by a government stating the cause, location, and time of death. Many death certificates also include personal information about the deceased.
VA DIC Claims and the Death Certificate
I found a good article written by Sandy Britt who was a Montgomery County, Tennessee, veterans service officer. My efforts to call met with a bad number listed as did the email which bounced back. Still I want to give her credit for the following:
In some DIC claims, proving the veteran’s service-connected disability caused death or “materially and significantly” contributed to it is a simple matter. For example, if the veteran was service-connected for heart disease and diabetes and one or both of those conditions were listed as the immediate cause of death in Part I of the death certificate, DIC will be granted.
However, sometimes the service-connected disabilities are listed only in Part II of the death certificate. In that case, medical records and evidence must show that the service-connected condition listed in part II “substantially or materially” contributed to the veteran’s death.
According to VA regulation “Contributory cause of death is inherently one not related to the principal cause. In determining whether the service-connected disability contributed to death, it must be shown that it contributed substantially or materially, it combined to cause death, or that it aided or lent assistance to the production of death.”
The fact that the service-connected condition is listed in Part II is not enough to grant DIC.
As a service officer I have seen many death certificates that are not filled out adequately or even correctly, especially if the physician who completed it is not the veteran’s regular doctor and was just present at death in an emergency room, for example. For most families, what is listed on the death certificate is not really that important, but when it comes to VA DIC and service-connected burial benefits it is, and family members need to be aware of that before the death certificate is written so they can let the doctor know why a complete and accurate death certificate listing the veteran’s chronic conditions, if applicable, is necessary.
The rest of her article can be found here.
What Sandy wrote in that last paragraph bears repeating: family members need to be aware of what the VA DIC and service-related benefits are before the death certificate is written so they can let the doctor know why a complete and accurate death certificate listing the veteran’s chronic conditions, if applicable, is necessary.
Top Ten Causes of Death According to the Center for Disease Control
Number of deaths for leading causes of death in 2015:
Heart disease: 635,260
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 161,374
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 154,596
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 142,142
Alzheimer’s disease: 116,103
Influenza and Pneumonia: 51,537
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 50,046
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,965