Hello again Tim and thank you for your reply. As far as getting assistance with this process, there are a few options. One is that many of the Veterans' Organizations like the VFW and the Vietnam Veterans of America, etc., have volunteers who assist Veterans and their families with applications and appeals. Another option, which will cost some money, is to find a local attorney who has a Military Law
practice where they handle post service administrative issues.
What I can tell you is that, unfortunately, the retirement paperwork that your father filled out to add your mother was something called "SBP
." That is the only benefit that a surviving spouse would be eligible for that would enable them to continue to collect from the retirement pay from that servicemember and is through the Department of Defense. However, the retiree must have funds deducted from their retirement pay for this benefit, and must actually be receiving retirement pay on the day that they pass away. This is not an optional or discretionary decision, it is statutory. You can read a bit more about SBP by going to the following link:
As for survivor benefits through the VA because your father was receiving medical benefits through the VA, if your mother could establish that his death resulted in a disease or condition that was caused by his military service or exacerbated by it, she could qualify for DIC
(Dependent Indemnity Compensation) and maybe even a Death Pension. You can read more about those benefits by going to the following links:
But, I would strongly advise her at this point to get the assistance of one of the local resources I mentioned, since they have experience with navigating the system.
Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.