Carmen Cardona on Thursday will file an appeal challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that bars the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Cardona last year married her wife in Connecticut, one of six states where such unions are legal, after a nine year engagement.

When the disabled Navy veteran applied for an increase in her disability as a newlywed her application was rejected. The Department of Veterans Affairs cited DOMA as the reason.

Cardona's lawyers will file their appeal before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The case is believed to be the first to use the court in an attempt to chip away at the law. If Cardona loses, she could ultimately argue her case before the Supreme Court.

“I was in disbelief when I was rejected,” Cardona, who served in the Navy for 18 years and was honorably discharged in 2000, told The New York Times. “I served my country for so many years.”

“I just want to put it out to the public for people like me. We worked hard for our country, we should be able to receive the same benefits as heterosexuals.”