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  • 5 May 2022 2:49 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    C & B Resolutions requiring a second presentation and vote at the 2022 National Convention can be accessed at the file linked below:

    GSW C and B Zoom Workshop Final.pdf

  • 5 Apr 2022 2:48 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    View the link below for an extensive article covering Gold Star Spouses Day and our National President Tamra Sipes, 

    https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/gold-star-spouses-support-military-families

  • 5 Apr 2022 9:24 AM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    Today is Gold Star Spouses Day! This day was established in 2010 by a U.S. Senate resolution authored by, Senators Burr (R-NC) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) who honored members of Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. The resolution was inspired by Gold Star Wife, Dr. Vivianne Wersel to raise awareness of our organization.

    At the end of March, we were invited to a special wreath laying at the Vietnam Wall in honor of the 5th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration. The senior leadership of each military branch escorted survivors to lay a wreath. There were a total of nine survivors each representing a branch of our military, two of which were Gold Star Wives. Thank you to Carol Ellinger from California a Marine Corps widow, escorted by the Commandant of the Marine Corps General David H. Berger and Ann Smith from Virginia, a Navy widow, escorted by the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Christopher W. Grady. American Gold Star Mothers and Sons & Daughters in Touch also participated.

    As we move into spring and start to get back to normal activities in our daily lives, I hope you will have an opportunity to participate in your region conferences.

    Warmly,

    Tamra Sipes
    National President

  • 1 Dec 2021 11:04 PM | Nancy Menagh

    Flat rate for 2022 will be $1437.36.  Add on if your spouse was 100% disabled Veteran for 8 years and you were married all that time $305.28.  Aid and Attendance $356.16.  Housebound Allowance $166.85.  Full charts can be found here:  https://www.va.gov/disability/survivor-dic-rates/#surviving-spouserates-if-the-v


  • 20 Nov 2021 3:44 PM | Nancy Menagh

    Dental:

    If you have TriCare, open enrollment for dental and vision is November 8th to December 13th.  You have a choice of plans. Find out if you are eligible and sign up here:  www.benefeeds.com

    If you have ChampVa, you may enroll in dental anytime, but there are waiting periods for major services:  Find out more info here: https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/dental-care/dental-insurance/

    Currently those on ChampVa do not have a vision program, but we are hoping to add it in the next contract.

    Medical:  Here are the Questions and Answers:

    Will ChampVA pay for teleconference doctor visits?  Currently the visit must be virtual, not just by phone in order to be paid.

    If I have TriCare and are eligible for ChampVA, may I choose ChampVA?  No, if you are eligible for TriCare then you are NOT eligible for ChampVA.

    If I plan to remarry and currently on TriCare, how do I line up the coverage? (assuming you are over 55 and eligible).  The ChampVa coverage will be effective when the TriCare terminates.  You may not apply prior to the TriCare termination as the system will show that you are on TriCare. 

    If I have Medicare Part A and B, and ChampVA for Life, do I need supplemental coverage?  While nobody will ever tell you NOT to purchase extra insurance, those of us on the call testified that everything was covered without purchasing a supplement.  Some felt that there might be certain providers or “extras” offered by a supplement – massages?

    Did Walmart and Sam’s Club drop off the pharmacy for ChampVA?  There were no changes to ChampVA.  However, if you have TriCare, then Walmart and Sam’s Club are no longer available after December 15, 2021.  Walgreens and CVS have been added to the TriCare pharmacy network.

    My spouse passed in 2012 and I never signed up for ChampVa.  What can I do to get reimbursed for medical claims?  Apply for ChampVA.  As soon as approved that will do two things. It will be effective back to 2012 (date of death) AND will open a 180 day window to submit all those claims.  So, you should start gathering the claim information and have it ready for when you apply.

    How long do I have to submit claims?  I had them denied because we had a Level 5 Hurricane and was unable to get them submitted within the 180 days.  You should file an appeal citing the circumstances.

    How do I sign up for HeatheVet so that I can order my meds by mail online?  I received a letter saying I have to update somehow.  Go to and follow instructions: https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhv-portal-web/home  You may also phone them in if you prefer.

    Should you use Meds by Mail or just go to the pharmacy?  Go to your pharmacy for anything urgent such as antibiotics.  If you go to a pharmacy you will pay a 25% cost share and your annual deductible. But get any nonurgent of long term from Meds by Mail such as maintenance medications, which are taken for longer periods of time such as blood pressure, hypertension, arthritis and chronic pain medications.

    Other MbM info:

    Medications included in the CHAMPVA pharmacy policy. Over-the-counter (OTC) items that do not need a prescription are not covered (exception for insulin and insulin supplies).

    Insulin and other refrigerated medications can only be mailed to a physical address within the continental United States; we cannot mail refrigerated items to post office boxes.

    Generic medications. To find out if your medication is available, call your MbM servicing center.

    Brand name medications are limited as Meds by Mail promotes generic medications. Call your MbM servicing center to see if the brand name is available. If it is not, you will have to use your local pharmacy and pay the 25% cost share and annual deductible.

    Certain controlled maintenance medications in Schedule 3, 4 and 5. For example, generic equivalents of Tylenol No. 3, Valium, Klonopin, Ultram and many others are available. All Schedule 2 narcotic medications such are Percocet, Ritalin, Hydrocodone and Oxycontin are NOT available and must be filled at your local pharmacy.

     Can I use Meds by Mail if I have other Rx coverage?  No, you cannot.

    How do I send in a prescription?

    Have your doctor send your prescription electronically
    If your doctor has the capability to e-prescribe, this is the fastest, safest, most convenient way to get new prescriptions to Meds by Mail. Your doctor can find MbM in their e-prescribing software by searching “Meds by Mail CHAMPVA” or by searching for telephone number 888-385-0235.

    Send your new prescriptions by mail
    Complete the Meds by Mail Prescription Order Form, VA Form 10-0426 and mail in the original prescription (not a copy) with the completed form. Make sure the patient's Social Security number is included on the form and that the prescription has the doctor's name, phone number and mailing address printed on it.

    How do I contact Meds by Mail with questions:  All the phone numbers, forms, etc. are here:  https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/dependents/pharmacy/meds_by_mail.asp


  • 18 Nov 2021 3:29 PM | Nancy Menagh

    Surviving Spouse Corner: Know Your State-Level Military Benefits

    By: Dr. Vivianne Wersel

    NOVEMBER 01, 2021

    Surviving Spouse Corner: Know Your State-Level Military Benefits Photo by Chad Springer/Getty Images

    Many MOAA surviving spouses receive survivor benefits from DoD and the VA. Besides these benefits, state-level benefits are available to those who meet the criteria. State benefits are state-driven, unlike federal or VA benefits or entitlements.

     

    Surviving spouses might not be aware of these state-level benefits because there is not a one-stop-shop website for military survivors.

     

    Some states are more “military friendly” than others. The amount of benefits can vary from state to state; some offer as many as 60 and as few as 22 benefits to retired veterans, according to the Center for a New America Security (CNAS). The challenge is determining what benefits are passed on to the survivor after the veteran or servicemember dies. CNAS says military survivors receive less than 50% of what states offers to veterans. 

     

    To determine what state benefits are available to survivors, begin by looking at the individual state benefits for veterans using the CNAS benefit finder. Next, locate the state you are targeting and then search for the “Beneficiary” category. It is important to verify eligibility, as many of the webpages might be outdated.

     

    [RELATED: MOAA's Military State Report Card and Tax Guide]

     

    Some state benefits include (but, again, vary from state to state):

    • Academic scholarships
    • Property tax exemption or reduction of property tax (For example: Military surviving spouses who receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from the VA are eligible for up to a $45,000 deduction in the assessed value of their home for property tax purposes.)
    • Survivor Benefit Plan tax exemption for state tax
    • Free admission to national parks
    • Free fishing and hunting license

     

    Being aware of state-level benefits can also help surviving spouses determine whether they want to stay or relocate to optimize their benefits. Many independent variables need to be considered, such as cost of living and proximity to family support. Knowing the state-level benefits is a helpful tool in this decision-making process.


  • 21 Oct 2021 8:00 AM | Nancy Menagh

    CVS will rejoin the TRICARE pharmacy network as of Dec. 15, while Walmart/Sam’s Club will leave the network at the same time.

    If you fill specialty medications at Walmart or Sam’s Club, you  will receive a letter and phone call from Express Scripts to assist in moving the prescription to another network specialty pharmacy. Due to the complexity of specialty medications, beneficiaries will have a 30-day grace period to move their specialty medication. The grace period is for specialty medications only; non-specialty prescriptions must be transferred by Dec. 15.

    TriCare is hosting a seminar on November 4th https://newsroom.tricare.mil/Articles/Article/2817662/register-to-join-nov-4-webinar-on-tricare-open-season?fbclid=IwAR13130Fk3VzDfwIxj6XppXLIRnTxr521jgg1EU8NnGxUdCzg0eC7bADIb4


  • 17 Oct 2021 5:00 PM | Nancy Menagh

    1.  Question regarding arranging a headstone and/or at Arlington National Cemetery.  Please go to https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Funerals/Scheduling-a-Funeral  There are certain criteria to be met and the process can be complex and may take time. 

    2.  Question regarding whether you qualify for SBP for an active duty death prior to 9/11.  Per Ann: Active duty deaths prior to 9/11 do not qualify for SBP.  SBP is primarily a benefit based upon retirement and a benefit paid into.  However, for post 9/11 active duty deaths, they have been granted the SBP.

    3. Question regarding amending the death certificate to reflect the current presumptives for Agent Orange, in particular relating to heart conditions.  Per Ann:  Only certain heart conditions are included in the presumptives.  You would need to have any medical doctor look at the health records and death certificate and make the amendment.  You would then appeal the previous decision.

    4. Question as to how ChampVa works as secondary to Medicare.  Per Ann: The concern is finding providers who accept ChampVa.  If the provider accepts Medicare, then they should also accept ChampVA.

    5.  I am a remarried widow that has since divorced.  My children took the SBP child option, but have now aged out.   Will I get the SBP option in 2023 and will I be contacted?  Is there somewhere I can register or check that I will be contacted? Per Ann: DFAS will contact you.    You need to make sure address is correct in MYPAY.  https://mypay.dfas.mil/#/

    6.  Should I be concerned if I do not receive the marriage questionnaire?  Per Ann:,currently the VA sends it out approximately every 7 years and stops sending it at age 55.

    7. My late husband’s first wife has indicated she is going to go after the DIC.  Can she do that?  Per Ann: No, only the surviving spouse that is married to the service member at the time of death may receive the DIC.  However, it is possible that the divorce decree may have had some kind of stipulation regarding the SBP.  There are certain rules concerning this including having to be married to the service member for at least ½ of their time on active duty.

    8.  Will ChampVA begin paying for virtual visits?  Per Ann: CHAMPVA will cover telehealth services for a covered medical benefit, but they must have both visual/audio components to be covered per CHAMPVA regulations. Audio only telehealth is not covered.

    9.  A number of people have had issues with ChampVA not paying for the shingles shot, even though they had been told before had that it would be covered.  Per Annf: if this happened to you, please pass on your name, date of service, and the shingles shot received.  CHAMPVA will look into it, but Ann expects that you will be reimbursed.

    10.  Question regarding whether a spouse who has been divorced though “no fault of her own” (some cases of PTSD, etc) and is now indigent.  Can she receive DIC?  Per Ann: The answer is sometimes this is possible.

    11.  Aid and Attendance question.  If you have remarried, but qualify and receive DIC, could you qualify for Aid and Attendance.  Per Ann: Yes, if you meet the usual criteria for Aid and Attendance.  The same question regarding educational benefits.  If you receive DIC and have not timed out for educational benefits, then yes you may still receive if remarried

    12.  Question regarding reinstatement for those who remarried after age 55, now that the law has changed.  If you remarried after age 55, would you be reinstated going forward.  A member said she was told nobody would be reinstated, it was only for those who have not yet remarried.  Per Ann:  This is correct – the date of the marriage would have to take place after January 5, 2021.

    VII.i.2.E.13.c.  Payment Date for Reinstatement of DIC 

    Do not reinstate DIC to a surviving spouse who remarried after age 55 effective earlier than January 5, 2021.  The payment date is subject to PL 116-315.

    M21-1, Part VII, Subpart i, Chapter 2, Section E - Remarriage of a Surviving Spouse.


  • 29 Sep 2021 12:27 PM | Maia Stanhope (Administrator)

    Last month, Las Vegas Valley Chapter member Ms. Offdenkamp and her late husband, veteran Dennis G. Jensen, was honored by Warrior Run. Please click the link to read more. http://newslj.com/content/warrior-run-remembers-honors-and-helps-veterans 

  • 10 Sep 2021 4:02 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    Gold Star Wives of America (GSW) resonate a heartfelt sorrow to all the heroes who lost their lives from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center New York City, the Pentagon, and at the Shanksville, Pennsylvania site. GSW recognized that twenty years ago today, the lives for many families were changed forever. The devastation of the series of terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, left many family members without their loved ones.

    As a result of the Global War on Terrorism, including Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the GSW membership grew with many new surviving spouses. To adjust with these membership demographics, new chapters were created to appeal to the younger post- 9-11 surviving spouses, such as the virtual Arlington Gold Star Wives Chapter.

    Originally called “WWII Widows,” GSW was organized in 1945 in New York City. It later became federally chartered as the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., with Eleanor Roosevelt as an original chartered member. Today there are 33 chapters located throughout the United States.

    Since 1945, GSW has been effective advocate for military surviving spouses. After 9-11 GSW became even more visible to assure military surviving spouses’ voices were heard. Congress asked GSW representatives to testify numerous times, to communicate the needs of survivors during the current conflict. Military survivor benefits are complex, which created some challenges for many of the survivors to receive their benefits as designed. The organization often contended with legislation that adversely affected families, as  survivor benefit laws had changed.   

    After 9-11, GSW successfully championed the creation of the Veteran Affairs (VA) Office of Survivors, which allowed  for direct communications with the VA. GSW also became an active participant in the VA/ Department of Defense forum. GSW collaborated with Disabled American Veterans in the win of the “Sharp Case” remarriage law, forcing DoD to comply. GSW was in the initial vanguard contributing to the correction of the “Widow’s Tax.” These were just some of many changes and improvements GSW has advocated since 9-11.

    The Gold Star Wives of America offers membership to all who meet the criteria (widows of those who died on active duty or as the result of a service-connected disability after leaving the military).For more information contact www.goldstarwives.org or call 888-751-6350.

    Dr. Vivianne Cisneros Wersel
    Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. Public Relations
    viwersel@yahoo.com
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