My father received A&A for four mos., and was due six mos. of retroactive A&A that was not paid before he passed away because of VA foot-dragging in fiduciary appointment. He is survived by me, the son, and a spouse. In applying for accrued benefits on form 21-601, am I interpreting the succession preference correctly when it appears that regardless of whether she or I applies (both relatives of the deceased), a lump sum would be payable to the spouse in this case? I was hoping I could use 21-601 to receive reimbursement because I paid for much of his recent assisted living and caregiver costs out of pocket, while she paid nothing. But it appears to my reading that would be irrelevant because his living spouse can simply apply for the lump sum. Am I on or off course with my interpretation? Would assisted living and caregiver expenses be countable as "last illness" expenses?