The rules regarding veterans benefits for same-sex married couples are set to change now that a portion of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) has been repealed. In general, the military considers a marriage of any kind valid as long as it is legally recognized in the state where the marriage was performed. This means that same-sex couples in states that recognize gay marriage will be entitled to military spousal benefits just as heterosexual couples would.
Currently, the Department of Defense (DoD) still defines a veteran spouse as “a person of the opposite sex who is a wife or husband.” This definition is expected to change in the coming months to become concurrent with the newly repealed restrictions that section 3 of DOMA created.
The story is different for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Until changes are made to the VA’s definitions and rules for who may qualify as a veteran’s spouse, those veterans living in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage may still be denied spousal benefits based on the marriage laws of their state.
The DoD spousal benefits are typically pension-related, while the VA benefits are focused more on health care and living support such as the GI Bill and home loans. Because the DoD is currently more apt to acknowledge spousal benefits for same-sex couples than the VA, it is important that disabled veterans seek professional help when applying for the various VA benefit programs.
Every federal benefit program is currently in the process of adjusting to the DOMA repeal and releasing information regarding the new rights of same-sex couples. Until it is determined how the federal benefit rights will be handled in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages, it is best to consult with a veterans’ disability attorney when applying for veterans’ benefits.
The Law Offices of Veterans Help Group is here to help all veterans and their families, regardless of sexual orientation. To discuss veterans disability programs and benefits contact us today – 1-855-855-8992.