Find us on Facebook!

Press / News

VHA Implementation of U.S. v. Windsor for Health Care Benefits Applications
Thursday, 21 June 2014

Purpose. The purpose of this memorandum is to set forth general administrative procedures for processing health benefits applications of same-sex couples and to ensure VHA medical facilities adhere to the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v. Windsor and the related Presidential directive described below.

Background. On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court held in United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 1 U.S.C. § 7, violates Fifth Amendment principles by discriminating against legally married same-sex couples. On September 4, 2013, the Attorney General announced that the President had directed the Executive Branch to cease enforcement of similar provisions in 38 U.S.C. §§ 101(3) and 101(31), which defining "surviving spouse" and "spouse," to the extent that they limit benefit entitlement to individuals in opposite-sex marriages. Another provision, 38 U.S.C. § 103(c), provides that "[i]n determining whether or not a person is or was a spouse of a Veteran, their marriage shall be proven as valid for the purposes of all laws administered by the Secretary according to the law of the place where the parties resided at the time of the marriage or the law of the place where the parties resided when the right to benefits accrued." OGC has issued guidance regarding VA's implementation of 103(c).

Implementation Proposal. In order to implement Windsor and the President's directive, VHA will inform Veterans and beneficiaries of the recent changes in the law and that VA will comply with section 103(c) in administering benefits involving a same-sex marriage. In conjunction with the Department of Justice and OGC, VHA has developed the following implementation plan.

  1. Provide notice to the public regarding the recent changes in law and VA procedures.
    VA will notify the public through a press release and through publication on VA's website ( of information regarding the recent changes in the law and will explain what is necessary for VA to recognize a Veteran's marriage under section 103(c) for purposes of Veterans' benefits. The publications will include a brief history of Windsor and the President’s directive and will explain how VA is implementing section 103(c).

  2. Revise form instructions for health benefits application to explain the section 103(c) standard. VHA will revise the form instructions for its health benefits application (10-10EZ/10-10EZR/10-10EC) and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) application (10-10d) to include a brief explanation how to determine if a marriage can be recognized by VA under section 103(c). The form instructions will include a link to the VA webpage described above for more comprehensive instructions, including up-to-date information regarding which states recognize same-sex marriages. The forms will also be revised to include a certification by the Veteran that the information provided, including his/her assertion of marriage, is true and correct to the best of his/her knowledge. VHA will recognize marriages based on this self-certification.

  3. Whenever possible, applications for eligibility under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) will be based on marriage determinations made by VBA.
    Whenever possible, in processing applications for benefits under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), VHA will rely on marriage determinations made by VBA. If VBA has not made a marriage determination at time of an application for CHAMPVA, VHA will recognize the marriage based on the applicant’s self-certification in the manner described above.

Presidential Memorandum-Extension of Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Federal Employees
How To Determine If VA Will Recognize a Marriage?

Repeal of DADT Training now occuring in US Military
US Military has begun training officers and enlisted about the repeal of DADT, here's the presentations as provided by the SLDN:

VfHR Gallery