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Veterans Law

VA Dependents: Who Qualifies, How to Add Them, and Benefits Available

Kaitlyn Degnan

April 18, 2018

Updated: November 20, 2023

VA Dependents

Veterans who were discharged under other than Dishonorable conditions and rated at least 30% disabled by the VA may add eligible dependents to their VA benefits, increasing their monthly disability payments in addition to allowing eligible dependents access to certain VA programs.

What is a Dependent for VA Purposes?

For VA purposes, a dependent is a family member who relies on the veteran financially and meets certain criteria.  Examples of dependents for VA purposes are:

  • A spouse
  • Unmarried children (this includes step children, adopted children, and biological children) who:
    • Are under the age of 18; or
    • Are between age 18 and 23 and attending school full-time; or
    • Were seriously disabled prior to reaching age 18.
  • Parents in the veteran’s direct care whose net worth and income are below the limit put in place by law
    • Parents (biological, step, adopted, foster, etc.) are defined as those who, for at least one year, “stood in the relationship of a parent to a veteran at any time before his or her entry into active service.”

How Do I Add Eligible Dependents to My Monthly VA Benefits?

VA has a different form to add each type of dependent to your benefit rate. If the below dependent form(s) are submitted within one year of your 30% (minimum) disability grant, the effective date of your benefit increase will be that of your original grant of benefits. See forms below:

What Benefits Are Available for My Dependents?

Dependents of disabled veterans may qualify for many VA programs. VA offers employment services, education and training such as The Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA) Program, healthcare such as CHAMPVA and The Camp Lejeune Family Member Program, life insurance, and VA memorial benefits to eligible dependents of service-connected veterans.

About the Author

Bio photo of Kaitlyn Degnan

Kaitlyn joined CCK in September of 2017 as an Associate Attorney. Her practice focuses on representing disabled veterans before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about Kaitlyn