The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allows military veterans to add dependents to their disability benefits under certain circumstances. The VA has strict eligibility criteria and procedures. A VA disability attorney can explain the rules and help you go after the compensation that you and your family deserve.
How to Add a Dependent to Your VA Disability Benefits
If you are applying for additional disability compensation because you have a qualifying child or spouse, you can submit the required form through the VA benefits website. Depending on your situation, you might have to send in additional forms and evidence with your application.
For example, you will have to submit a Request for Approval of School Attendance form if the child is a full-time student between the ages of 18 and 23. You will have to give the VA a full copy of all of your child’s medical records if your child became permanently disabled before the age of 18.
If you are seeking additional compensation for a dependent parent, you will have to send in a Statement of Dependency of Parent(s). The VA does not accept that form online through its website. You have to mail in that form with your application.
Eligibility Rules to Add a Dependent to Your VA Disability Compensation
If you are not eligible for VA disability benefits, you cannot apply for additional compensation for a dependent. However, if you are eligible for VA compensation on your own, you might receive a higher benefit rate (compensation payment) if the VA approves your request to add a dependent to your VA disability benefits, but you must have a combined disability rating of at least 30 percent. Typically, your best chances are working with a skilled and experienced VA Veterans Disability Attorney to help you both receive the highest rating, and also any related and additional dependents benefits.
Who is a Dependent for Purposes of VA Disability Benefits
The VA can approve the addition of a dependent to your disability benefits if the person falls into one of these categories:
- Your spouse, which can include common-law and same-sex marriages.
- Your parent for whom you provide direct care and whose income and net assets do not exceed the limit.
- Your unmarried child (natural-born, adopted, or stepchild) who is either below the age of 18, or a full-time student between the ages of 18 and 23, or became permanently disabled before the age of 18.
If you have an eligible dependent, you need to consider the timing of when you add the person to your VA benefits.
When to Add a Dependent to Your Benefits
The VA allows you to add a dependent at logical points in the process. By way of example, if you are just now filing your initial claim for VA disability compensation, you can go ahead and include your dependent in the claim. If you did not claim the dependent in your original claim for benefits, but you now have a combined disability rating of at least 30 percent, you can apply to add the dependent to your existing claim.
Also, certain life events can make you eligible to apply for additional benefits, adding a dependent when you:
- Get married
- Or your spouse gives birth to a child
- Adopt a child
- Have a child who is a full-time student and between the ages of 18 and 23
- Have a child who became permanently disabled before the age of 18
- Begin serving as the caregiver for your parent who meets the income and assets limitations.
We understand that these rules can be confusing. A Michigan VA disability attorney can answer your questions and help you pursue the benefits you qualify for because of your disability and your service to our country. Contact our office today.