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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 110513
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I am the surviving spouse of military member who died on

Customer Question

I am the surviving spouse of military member who died on active duty in 1992. At that time I received sbp and dic. In 1997 I remarried and was informed that I would lose my benefits but could reapply after I reached the age of 57. I will be 57 on my next birthday and I am now disabled. I know that so many changes have occurred in survivor benefits since my remarriage but I should be grandfathered in. How do I start the process of reinstating benefits?
JA: OK. The Military Lawyer will need to help you with this. Because laws vary from state to state, could you tell me what state is this in?
Customer: I remarried in Hawaii but now live in Idaho.
JA: Have you consulted a lawyer yet?
Customer: No, but I have contacted he local VA office and called Washington DC but have been told I can not reinstate my benefits. That is wrong.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Military Lawyer should know?
Customer: No
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Military Lawyer about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Unfortunately, you may have misunderstood the rules on reinstating benefits at the time. The rule is remarriage prior to age 57 would suspend benefits unless your new marriage ends in divorce or death or annulment. If you remarried after 57 it would not impact your benefits. See:

There is no "grandfather" on this matter I am afraid. In order to get those benefits reinstated, you have to divorce if you are currently still married to the new spouse. In fact, I have had several people get what is deemed a "divorce for convenience" unofficially, in order to get VA or even Social Security benefits that they could not qualify for because of their marriage. Just because you divorce does not mean you cannot subsequently continue living together and many people do so because it is the only way they can get their deserved benefits.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
You haven't told me anything I haven't heard before. I know what I was told and that the specifics of receiving benefits have undergone changes since 1997. If changes have occurred I should be "grandfathered" in. How can I get a copy of the regulations governing remarriage and survivor benefits for 1997. I know alot of changes occurred in 2003.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Thank you for your reply.

I am sorry I have not told you things you have not heard before, but I cannot make things up to send you off on a wild goose chase seeking benefits you would not be entitled to. First off, while there may have been some changes in 2003, there were changes to this regulation about remarriage. Furthermore, you would not be "grandfathered" in this type of situation unless Congress put in the law that you would be, because in this type of situation it is based on the law at the time you try to avail yourself of the particular benefit.

I am not trying to shoot you down, but I cannot in good conscience tell you things that you would like to hear but are not the law. The reason many times people hear the same thing over and over from different independent sources is because that is simply what the law is and while I wish I could change that law for you and make you grandfathered, it is not possible under the laws on this situation. I did provide you a reasonable solution that many of my clients have successfully used, but I am certainly not making up what I am telling you.

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