In new rules published in the Federal Register on June 6, the Department of Veterans Affairs says that it will treat surviving domestic partners and civil union partners of veterans the same as surviving spouses. The rules uses the terminology “survivor of a legal union” and requires that the union have been documented under state law, so presumably it applies only to people in state-registered domestic partnerships and civil unions. This would, apparently, not extend to DP and CU that are purely local in nature. Here is the publication in the Federal Register:
RULES and REGULATIONS
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
38 CFR Part 3
Friday, June 6, 2014
§ 3.1702 Persons who may receive burial benefits; priority of payments.
(a) Automatic payments to eligible surviving spouse. On or after July 7, 2014, VA will automatically pay a burial benefit to an eligible surviving spouse when VA is able to determine eligibility based on evidence of record as of the date of the veteran’s death. VA may grant additional burial benefits, including the plot or interment allowance, reimbursement for transportation, and the service-connected burial allowance under § 3.1704, to the surviving spouse or any other eligible person in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section and based on a claim described in § 3.1703.
(b) Priority of payments—claims received on or after July 7, 2014. (1) Except for claims a State, or an agency or political subdivision of a State, files under § 3.1707, Plot or interment allowance for burial in a State veterans cemetery or other cemetery, or § 3.1708, Burial of a veteran whose remains are unclaimed, VA will pay, upon the death of a veteran, the first living person to file of those listed below:
(i) His or her surviving spouse;
(ii) The survivor of a legal union between the deceased veteran and the survivor that is not covered by paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section. For purposes of this paragraph, legal union means a formal relationship between the decedent and the survivor that
(A) Existed on the date of the veteran’s death,
(B) Was recognized under the law of the State in which the couple formalized the relationship, and
(C) Was evidenced by the State’s issuance of documentation memorializing the relationship;