While widows and widowers of veterans have many obstacles to overcome, one not often discussed is a Veteran committing suicide. VA Disability Benefits may compensate for physical and mental illnesses, but this area is not often discussed.
The process for determining to grant death benefits to a widow or widower of a veteran who committed suicide is much like any claim for compensation. The VA issues a decision based on examined evidence.
And like any other claim, decisions are made on a case by case basis. However, there are guidelines the VA follows that are standard for determining entitlement to death benefits. These are found in 38 CFR 3.302, which is available for review on va.gov.
In this circumstance, the veteran must have had an unsound mind. To be found of unsound mind, the self-destructive act must be performed intentionally. Therefore, the veteran cannot be guilty of willful misconduct. An attempt to take one’s own life demonstrates unsoundness.
A favorable decision often results if the veteran had been granted service-connection under a mental illness prior to the act. Whether the veteran realized the consequences of the action taken or could resist the impulse depend upon medical and lay evidence. Any circumstances that lead a rational person to self-destruction can be considered a valid motive.
Again, like any compensation claim, determining entitlement to death benefits on suicide weighs heavily on evidence. For help in a confusing and difficult process for obtaining VA Disability/Death Benefits, you may contact Jan Dils Attorneys at Law where we fight for those who fought for our country. Tell us about your case.