CHAMPVA Policy for Some Surviving Spouses Extended

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America's Veterans


WASHINGTON (March 25, 2004) - An extended deadline will allow more time for some remarried surviving spouses of veterans to seek health care insurance under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).

"I am pleased that this extension will allow VA to provide health care benefits to more widows and widowers of veterans," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi. "This is another illustration of VA's long-term commitment, not only to veterans, but also to their surviving family members."

The extension applies to CHAMPVA-eligible spouses who remarry after a veteran's death. The surviving husband or wife lost access to CHAMPVA benefits if they remarried before their 55th birthday and before Feb. 4, 2003.

Under rules announced last March, those survivors had until Feb. 4, 2004, to apply for reinstatement of their CHAMPVA coverage. Today's announcement gives them until Dec. 16, 2004, to apply for reinstatement.

To be eligible for CHAMPVA, people must be family members of veterans who have a permanent and total service-connected disability, who died of a service-connected condition or who were totally disabled from a service-connected condition at the time of death.

In general, CHAMPVA covers most health care services and supplies that are medically and psychologically necessary. People who want an application for this benefit or more information can contact VA's Health Administration Center at 800-733-8387.

Surviving spouses who remarry at a younger age and lose their CHAMPVA benefits can have these benefits restored if their later marriage is annulled or ends due to death or divorce. Similarly, widows or widowers of any age who lost benefits under VA's Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) program due to remarriage are eligible for reinstatement of monthly DIC payments if their subsequent marriage ends.

This restoration policy has been in effect since 1998, but VA officials are concerned widows or widowers may overlook this benefit if a subsequent marriage ends years later. VA's average payment to surviving spouses is about $12,720, including adjustments for minor children, survivors who are housebound or who need a home aide, and other factors.