95 y/o Surviving Spouse first marriage/divorce Dates & Places UNKNOWN - denied claim

Discussion in 'Surviving Spouse Application' started by EvaM, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. EvaM

    EvaM Newbie

    Question: What do you do if the Dates and Places of the Surviving Spouse/Claimant's prior marriage and divorce are UNKNOWN?

    My 95-year old mother/surviving spouse/claimant's expedited claim for Aid & Attendance death pension benefit has been denied again as of 07 July 2017 -- specifically because mother (who has memory loss & early signs dementia per treating doctor statement) has been unable to recall the date and place of her first marriage and divorce in the 1940's. Mother has no living siblings; only three living daughters.

    My Father/Veteran had one prior marriage. Dates and places of marriage and divorce were provided (as well as certified copy of divorce decree) -- VA accepted.

    Mother/Surviving Spouse/Claimant had three marriages:

    Most recent/third marriage was to Veteran (married her in 1950; and he died in 1981). Mother has never remarried. Two daughters of this marriage, living.

    Mother's second marriage (1948-1949) dates and places of marriage and divorce provided (as well as certified copy of complaint for divorce, and final judgment of divorce) -- VA accepted. No children born this marriage.

    ***Mother's first marriageDATES AND PLACES of marriage and divorce are UNKNOWN -- she cannot remember! She has no copies of the marriage or divorce paperwork in her possession. She has only told family members over the years that she was married that first time, and only name of Husband is known. Husband's name is on living child/daughter's birth certificate, however, no other identifying info is available; daughter has no memory of him.

    -19Sep2016, Surviving Spouse (SS)' Intent to File Claim filed with VA
    -17Nov2016, SS Expedited Claim filed with VA, Form 21-534EZ
    -24Jan2017, VA Denial Ltr requesting Form 21-686c for complete marital history (only basis for denial re SS's first two marriages). (SS replied providing certain info as to her second marriage with certified copies)
    -14Mar2017, VA Denial Ltr requesting Form 21-686c for complete marital history (re SS's first marriage)
    (SS replied again providing only name and showing dates and places unknown).
    -24May2017, VA Denial Ltr (only basis the lack of dates and places re first marriage/divorce).
    -06Jun2017, SS submitted her signed/sworn Statement In Support of Claim VA Form 21-4138 stating she unable to provide dates and places as to first marriage and divorce due to memory loss and that it over about 70 years ago; and specifically stating the divorce OCCURRED PRIOR to her second marriage. (SS also stated internet ancestry or family search results for the named first husband have been futile; and daughters unable to reasonably search city/county/state public records because dates and places unknown).
    -07Jul2017, VA Denial Ltr of "Re-opened" Claim (again denied for failure to submit dates and places of first marriage and divorce) [allowing submit any new evidence by 24Jan2018] [and allowing for appeal within one year from date of this letter].

    SS's daughters believe the VA should approve because best available info has been provided and best efforts to search re first husband have been made; that SS/claimant should be given benefit of the doubt and there is no conflicting info in the claim file or no reason to doubt SS's credibility. Again, SS age 95 stated that her first marriage ended in divorce PRIOR TO her second marriage about 70 years ago!

    Any suggestions re how to now proceed would be appreciated.///------END------///
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017
  2. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    This is ridiculous! The VA should not be denying your mother's claim based on what you've told me here. She's provided all that she can and her first marriage is so unimportant in the grand scheme of things for her application. Have you contacted her state senator to ask for expedition of her claim due to her advanced age? Because she is 95 years old her claim should be handled much faster and you can request that her state senator make a Congressional Inquiry into her claim - to which the VA has to reply within one month. I would do that if I were you! Make sure to include everything you told me here in that letter (you can either make Congressional Inquiry online, by phone, or sending letter) because this is absolutely ridiculous that they are holding up your mother's claim due to that one marriage. Be as detailed to the senator as you can because it will help establish your story.

    Please come back and let us know any updates.
  3. EvaM

    EvaM Newbie

    Kaylin, Thank you very much for above reply. Will keep you posted here re updates. If anyone else has anything further to suggest, please reply/post here in the interim.
    Kaylin likes this.
  4. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    You're welcome!

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