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October 28, 2022

VA Expands Survivor Benefits to LGBTQ+ Partners of Deceased Veterans Unable to Meet Marriage Requirements Before 2015

Effective immediately, many surviving partners of LGBTQ+ veterans, who were previously barred from receiving survivors benefits, have become eligible to apply.  Partners include those who had been living in “marriage-type” relationships, but were unable to officially marry until the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the right to same-sex marriage in 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges and then were not married long enough to be eligible for survivors benefits. 

Survivors will have to establish a marriage-type relationship, subject to the same marriage duration requirements seen in heterosexual unions, by showing dates for joint banking accounts, commitment ceremonies, or the joint purchase of a house.  These benefits are not retroactive. 

“VA is closing a gap in benefits for surviving spouses of LGBTQ+ Veterans, righting a wrong that is a legacy of the discriminatory federal ban on same-sex marriages,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough.

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