RI Veterans: Did you know? 14 April 22 – John A. Cianci

by John A Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer, Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

Spouse and Dependent Child or Parent Could Be Entitled to Thousands of Dollars of Veteran’s Claim Pending Prior to Death

We start off with a question from one of our readers.

Q – My husband passed away prior to a final decision on his claim for an illness that was already considered service connected. What happened to the claim?  Cindy, Cranston RI

First, prayers and condolences for your loss. As the surviving spouse you can continue the claim or appeal with a substitution.

BUT! The VA will NOT automatically inform your survivors of the possibility to continue your claim or appeal. 

VETTIP – If you are a veteran in the process of any claim or appeal, make sure your spouse or eligible children know about the pending claim. The Italian American War Veterans of the United States (ITAM) veteran service officer encourages veterans to have a separate folder, marked VA, which has the following information:

1.    3 copies of DD214 or discharge papers

2.    Copy of the original claim (veteran can sign in to and print verification of the claim, which will also be used as proof of pending claim)

3.     Any document showing proof of marriage or dependency

Since the veteran died during a pending claim or appeal, someone eligible to receive accrued benefits can act as substitute to complete the claim.

Step 1

As the spouse, or someone eligible (dependent child or parent or common-law spouse) you would file for accrued benefits and establish being the veteran’s substitute. Substitution is a type of accrued benefit.

TheVA will recognize a common law marriage if the state in which the Veteran resides recognizes common law marriage, and the state’s requirements for a common law marriage are met.

Elements Required When Establishing a Common Law MarriageThe legal requirements for establishing a common law marriage vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Per Burden v. Shinseki, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must use the evidentiary standard of the state in which a common law marriage took place in order to determine the validity of a common law marriage.   Typically, all of the elements listed below must be present before a common law marriage may be established.   
An agreement between the parties to be marriedOften this agreement is explicit, but it can be inferred from the conduct of the parties.  The statement of one of the parties that there was no agreement to be married is not necessarily conclusive, especially when   ·  the statement is self-serving, and  ·  there is evidence that the parties held themselves out as married.
CohabitationThe parties actually lived together for some period of time.
Holding out to the public as marriedThe parties represented themselves to members of the community as spouses.  It is not necessary to have used the same last name.
Reference:  For the procedure for developing for common law marriage, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.C.2.b.

Cindy, it appears in you case file VA Form 21P-601, “Application for Accrued Amounts Due a Deceased Beneficiary,” at

The Italian American War Veteran of the United States Service Officer also recommends the following when applying for any benefit –

1.    Make a copy of the complete claim filed.

2.    Mail to :

Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444

3.    If you do not receive acknowledgement of the claim by the VA within 60 days, call the VA, 1-1-800-827-1000.

VETTIP – Recommend proof of mailing. The ITAM service officer was privy to VA Providence Regional Office denying ever receiving a veteran’s claim to a congressional inquiry to a local senator’s office on status of claim. However, acknowledging receipt only after the local veteran service officer provided a copy of a signed United States Postal receipt by the VA. Sadly, the Providence Regional Office has a documented track record of “losing” claims filed by veterans and their survivors, costing veterans thousands of dollars of benefits. 

Simply put, the claim does not die because the veteran has passed away. Moreover, the surviving spouse, dependent, or parent could be entitled to thousands of dollars of retroactive benefits the veteran was entitled to, however, died before a final decision was made by the VA. 

Nevertheless, a surviving spouse or dependent child or dependent parent should have a right to continue the claim or an appeal before the BVA on behalf of the claimant. Congress recognized the inequity of this situation and passed legislation in 2008 to correct it, §3.1010 Substitution under 38 U.S.C. 5121A following death of a claimant.

More information from the VA website: 

How and When Can a Person File for Accrued Benefits? 

Choose a form below based on the following:

• Relationship:

o VA Form 21P-601, “Application for Accrued Amounts Due a Deceased Beneficiary,” at

o VA Form 21P-534EZ, “Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits,” at VA Form 21P-534EZ

o VA Form 21P-535, “Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation by Parent(s) (Including Accrued Benefits and Death Compensation When Applicable),” at

o VA Form 21P-0847, “Request for Substitution of Claimant Upon Death Claimant,” at

• Reimbursement

o VA Form 21P-601, “Application for Accrued Amounts Due a Deceased Beneficiary,” at

VA must receive an accrued benefits claim within one year of:

• The Veteran’s death and/or

• The date of notification to the Veteran

If you have a claim or appeal in process and you pass away, your surviving dependents can continue the claim or appeal with a substitution form from the original substitute’s death to file a claim,…/facts…/general/accrued.pdf

The VA website fact sheet ,…/facts…/general/accrued.pdf on Accrued Benefits and Substitution details who are eligible and what are accrued benefits

What are Accrued Benefits? 

Accrued benefits are benefits that are due, but not paid prior to a Veteran’s death. Examples include: 

1. A claim or appeal for a recurring benefit was pending at the time of death, but all evidence needed for a favorable decision was in VA’s possession. 

2. A claim for a recurring benefit had been allowed, but the beneficiary died before award. 

At the time of death, one or more benefit checks were not deposited or negotiated. 

Who Is Eligible to Receive Accrued Benefits? 

VA pays accrued benefits based on the claimant’s relationship to the deceased Veteran. If there is no eligible living person, VA pays accrued benefits based on reimbursement. 


Accrued benefits are paid to the first living person listed below: 

Relationship to the Deceased Veteran 

Surviving spouse

Parents (both) Sole surviving parent 

Accrued Benefit 

Full amount to surviving spouse

Equal shares, if parents are dependent at time of Veteran’s death 

Full amount to surviving parent, if dependent at the time of Veteran’s death 

In conclusion, the Italian American War Veteran of the United States veteran service officer recommends to all spouses and or next of kin of deceased veteran to file organization file VA Form 21P-601 since the VA has a backlogged of claims going back several years. Worst case scenario, the VA responds in writing the deceased veteran had no claim pending upon his death.

Now Cindy and our readers know more who is entitled to continue a claim of a deceased veteran and how to file to the VA for possible thousands of dollars the veteran was entitled to prior to his or her death. 

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci,, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)


Marine Corps League Open House second Wednesday of every month from 6 to 8pm. Reserve Center, Narragansett Ave, Cranston. The Department of Rhode Island of the Marine Corps League is looking to add some more ranks. If you are Active Duty, Marine veteran or Navy personnel who served with the Fleet Marine Force and miss the camaraderie , serving your community, enjoying time with those who understand you than this is the organization for you. 



Applebee’s – Military Discount … With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2028

Denny’s – Hartford Ave, Johnston offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty . Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain.  Last verified 07/31/2028 (PS I had breakfast there on Saturday).

Outback Steakhouse – 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021

99 Restaurant & Pub – The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID


Advance Auto Parts – 10% for Active Duty, Veterans, and families. Last verified 07/28/2021

Bass Pro Shops –  Offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source).

BJs Wholesale – Reduced membership fee. BJ’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021

Lowes – Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to activate your 10% discount

“Our way of saying Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items.

Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner, is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe.

GameStop – is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through

Home Depot – Offers a 10% off military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer.

Kohls – 15% discount offers for active military, veterans, retirees, and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type.


We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 15% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at select locations listed below:

Tioque Ave, Coventry RI

Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI

Park Ave, Cranston RI

Michaels – offers a 15% off military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans, and family members. How to get –

1.    Create an Account. Log in or create a Michaels Rewards account.

2.    Get Verified. Provide your military information to get verified instantly.

3.    Go Shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout.

O’Reilly Auto Parts – 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21.


If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward,  the business’s name , location, and military and veteran discount offered.

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci,, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)

Veterans Administration News

Greetings GI Bill Beneficiary 

A friendly reminder that Veterans Benefit Administration’s Education Service (EDU) will be hosting the first ever GI Bill® Summit on April 14, 2022, and you are invited to attend!  

This is YOUR opportunity to hear from EDU leaders to get your education benefits questions answered and get the latest updates on how we are modernizing your GI Bill experience.  

When: TODAY! Thursday, April 14, 2022, from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. EDT 

Where: Virtually via Facebook Live on VA’s Post-9/11 GI Bill Facebook page 

What: An hour-long event to get your GI Bill questions answered and learn more about: 

  • GI Bill modernization and what it means to you 
  • Monthly Enrollment Verification requirement 
  • How the expiration of COVID-19 benefit protections will affect you 
  • And much more 

For more information, see the GI Bill Summit flyer and RSVP for the 2022 GI Bill Summit HERE:   



If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward ,  the business’s name , location, and military and veteran discount offered.

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci,, ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)


To read all columns in this series go to:

John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.