Dependents’ Benefits

A veteran who has a combined total rating of at least 30 percent can receive additional monthly compensation for his or her dependents. Sometimes, there’s confusion about how to claim dependents, or how to establish that a veteran has dependents. Here’s a quick guide in applying for dependents’ benefits.

  • A “dependent” can be a spouse, child, or even a parent, although different rules apply to each.
  • A spouse is a dependent even if he or she is working.
  • Children under the age of 18 are considered dependents. A child may also be a dependent if they are under the age of 23 and attending school, or if they are considered a “helpless child” prior to the age of 18 on the basis of a physical or mental disability.
  • To claim a spouse or child, fill out VA form 21-686c. Be sure to have the social security numbers of all family members being claimed. Provide documentation of all previous and current marriages, divorces and births in the form of marriage licenses, divorce decrees and birth certificates. If claiming a “helpless child,” a note from a doctor can be very useful.
  • To claim a parent as a dependent, you will have to prove that your parent meets income guidelines, and that your parent is dependent upon your income by filling out VA form 21-509.

It can take some time for the VA to make a decision on dependents’ benefits, but you will receive a lump sum award going back to the date that you were rated at 30 percent and/or the date of marriage or birth in the case of a spouse or child. Keep in mind that any change in circumstance should be reported to the VA immediately to avoid creating an overpayment on your account.

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