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.