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Senators join together to press VA Secretary to end discrimination against same-sex veteran couples

Department of Veteran Affairs Revamps Insurance Programs
Posted at 9:20 PM, Jul 14, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of Senators sent a letter to the VA regarding reports of the VA refusing to provide benefits to same-sex veteran couples.

U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with 39 others sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough. They sent the letter seeking answers to reports of discrimination against same-sex veteran couples. The letter calls for speedy action to ensure these couples have access to the full spousal benefits they are owed.

“Each of our veterans and their spouses deserve the same quality care and services once they leave the military – no matter who they love. Our veterans and their families, who selflessly served our nation and have sacrificed so much, must be afforded the benefits they have so rightly earned. This is not only a matter of fairness and equity, it is the morally right thing to do,” wrote the senators. “Yet, we have recently heard from numerous survivors about issues they are facing when they attempt to access the full Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits that they are entitled to under the law.”

In the letter, the senators highlighted how duration requirements had left same-sex couples ineligible for benefits due to living in states where marriage laws barred them from marrying earlier. Other federal agencies like the Social Security Administration have taken action to accept and reconsider claims for survivor benefits by same-sex spouses who were previously unable to meet marriage duration requirements, the VA has until now failed to do so.

The senators called for the VA to make sure benefits are available to same-sex couples who have been denied benefits solely because tor duration requirements.

“We promise to take care of all our veterans after they serve our country, and that includes ensuring that their partners have access to full and complete spousal benefits. Correcting this error will help end the discriminatory treatment of potentially thousands of same-sex veteran couples and allow them to access the benefits they are owed," the senators stated.

Click here to read the full letter.