When you have a service-connected disability or injury, you become eligible for VA disability compensation. If your combined disability rating is 30% or more, then you also qualify to receive additional compensation for a spouse, child, and/or parent.
Qualifications for a VA Dependent Child
According to VA guidelines, your dependent child must either be your biological child, stepchild in your household, or an adopted child. Foster children are not eligible as dependents at this time.
You will need to provide the VA with your child’s birth certificate, adoption papers, or proof of marriage to the child’s adoptive or biological parent. Giving the VA this documentation establishes them as your dependent(s).
Whether you have already applied to determine your child as VA dependent or not, you should know that there is an eligibility cut-off. Once your child turns 18 years old, they no longer qualify to be a VA Dependent, unless they meet the following circumstances below.
Exemptions to the Dependent Cut-Off
Dependents Pursuing Education
If your son or daughter is still in high school when they turn 18 years old, then they can remain your dependent. Likewise, sons and daughters between 18 and 23 years old can remain or become dependents if they are unmarried and in college.
The VA requires you to fill out VA Form 21-674 to continue receiving dependent benefits. This form is a request for approval of school attendance.
The VA suggests you file this form up to one year before your son or daughter turns 18 years old so they have time to process the paperwork. This lead time should prevent you from experiencing an interruption to your dependent benefits if you already receive compensation.
Dependents with Special Needs
The other exception to the age requirement is if your child has special needs. The VA allows seriously disabled dependents to stay on benefit compensation plans after they turn 18 years old.
To qualify for compensation as a special needs dependent, he or she must be incapable of generating enough income for self-support due to a mental or physical disability. If you document this on the same VA form 21-674, your child should not lose benefits when he or she turns 18.
With that said, there are ways a special needs dependent can lose benefits. If he or she marries, or becomes able to provide self-support through employment, or becomes capable of self-care, then the VA can end dependent status.
If you receive VA disability compensation for a service-connected disability and you have kids who can be qualifying dependents, you should document them with the VA.
Please reach out to Strategic Veteran if you have questions. We are a veteran-operated company working to assist all veterans with the VA disability system. Our knowledge and resources are always free – give us a call today at 800-761-9004.