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Education Benefits for 100% Disabled Veterans

Education Benefits for 100% Disabled Veterans

The VA provides a wide range of benefits for those Veterans labeled as 100% disabled by its rating system. While many of these benefits are intended to cover the cost of medical supplies or daily expenses, some benefits also cover educational costs for Veterans’ children or their current or past spouses.

These education benefits can provide an affordable pathway to higher education and a promising career for those individuals who Veterans care about most. Today, let’s break down the education benefits 100% disabled Veterans may allow their spouses or children to qualify for.

Survivors and Dependents Education Assistance Program (DEA)

The Survivors and Dependents Education Assistance Program is the first of two education benefits that 100% of disabled Veterans (or their families) can utilize. Also called Chapter 35 benefits, the DEA is not intended to be used by the disabled Veteran, but for the child or spouse of a Veteran or servicemember.

Who Is Eligible for the DEA?

The DEA program is available under certain circumstances. For a family member or spouse to qualify for the DEA, the Veteran or servicemember applying for the benefits (or whose family member is applying for benefits) must have one of the qualifications.

These qualifications are:

  • Be 100% or totally disabled because of a service-connected disability
  • Have died because of a service-connected disability or while on active duty
  • Be missing in action are captured in the line of duty by a hostile force
  • Have been forcibly detained and/or interned in the line of duty by a hostile force or a foreign entity
  • Be in the hospital or receiving outpatient treatment for any service-connected total and permanent disability. They must also be likely to be discharged for the disability as of December 23, 2006

As mentioned, the DEA is available for the children of service members or Veterans. Qualifying children must be:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 26 except in specific circumstances. Marriage status does not matter
  • Not be receiving DIC or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from the VA
  • Not use the benefit while on active duty if the child joins the military. Should the descendant of the Veteran wish to use the benefit after leaving active duty, they must not be dishonorably discharged

A qualifying spouse of a service member or Veteran may:

  • Start receiving benefits on the qualification date or the date that the Veteran dies
  • Receive benefits that last for 10 years
  • Qualify for benefits for 20 years after the effective date from when the VA rates a Veteran as permanently and totally disabled
  • Qualify for benefits that end 20 years from the date of death if the qualifying servicemember died on active duty
  • Not receive DEA benefits and DIC payments at the same time

What Benefits Are Included in the DEA?

The DEA is intended to help pay for schooling and education costs, resulting in a wide range of benefits for those who qualify. Descendants or spouses of Veterans or servicemembers may receive monthly benefits to cover:

  • The cost of college or graduate degree programs
  • Certificate courses for career training
  • Apprenticeship program costs
  • Career or educational counseling fees
  • On-the-job training costs

Those who receive the DEA benefit who began using the program before August 1, 2018, may receive benefits for up to 45 months. However, if you start using the program after August 1 of 2018, you’ll receive benefits for up to 36 months.

Just how much is covered by this benefit? According to the VA benefits website, institutional training (i.e., attending college or a graduate program) may award benefits between $324.50 up to $1298 per month.

Fry Scholarship

The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship is intended for the children or spouses of 100% disabled or deceased Veterans. Those who qualify must have a parent or spouse who died in the line of duty on or after 9/11 while serving in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The deceased parent or spouse may also have been a member of the selected reserve who died from a service-connected disability.

Like other educational benefits, the Fry Scholarship is meant to help cover the cost of schooling rather than other financial needs.

Who Is Eligible for the Fry Scholarship?

The Fry Scholarship is only available to children or surviving spouses of Veterans who meet one of the following qualifications:

  • They were a member of the Armed Forces who died in the line of duty while still on active duty either on or after 9/11.
  • They were a member of the Armed Forces who died in the line of duty while not on active duty on or after 9/11.

  • They were a member of the selected reserve and died from a service-connected disability recorded in the VA either on or after 9/11.

If children apply for the Fry Scholarship, they may be married or unmarried. They may receive a Fry Scholarship if:

  • They turn 18 or graduate from high school before January 1 of 2013. They may apply for the scholarship until they are 33 years old.
  • They turn 18 or graduate high school after January 1 of 2013. These children may receive a Fry Scholarship at any age after they graduate.
  • Their parent is a member of the selected reserve and died from a service-connected disability while not on active duty. Children who qualify here may receive a Fry Scholarship at any time, regardless of age.
  • Their parent died in the line of duty before August 1 of 2011. They may qualify for both the Fry Scholarship and the DEA program, but only one program can be used at a time.
  • They may not be receiving DIC payments from the VA if they intend to use the Fry Scholarship.

Spouses who intend to apply for the Fry Scholarship must keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Spouses cannot remarry – if they do, they will no longer be eligible for the Fry Scholarship.
  • Spouses can receive both DIC and Fry Scholarship payments at the same time.

What Benefits Are Included in the Fry Scholarship?

Should your child or spouse qualify for the Fry Scholarship, they may see the following benefits for up to 36 months:

  • Coverage for the cost of tuition, up to $22,805.34 per year for training at out-of-state or private schools, and full in-state tuition costs for public schools
  • Coverage for housing, books, and supplies costs

This program can be particularly effective if a child or spouse wishes to acquire an education at very little cost to themselves. The Fry Scholarship is close to a “full-ride,” making it an attractive option.

Can You Use the DEA and Fry Scholarship at the Same Time?

Generally, no.

This is because the VA intends both benefits to cover the same costs but to apply to different individuals. As you can see from the above breakdown, the Fry Scholarship is only available for spouses or descendants of Veterans who were killed in action or as a result of a service-connected disability.

On the other hand, the DEA program does not require the Veteran to be deceased for their spouse or child to take advantage of the benefits.

Furthermore, keep in mind that an applicant can’t switch to the other program once they choose. 

How To Apply for Educational Assistance?

If your child or spouse wishes to apply for the DEA program, they can apply online or apply by mail. If they wish to apply by mail, they must fill out VA Form 22-5490 and mail it to their state’s regional processing office. You can download the VA form here

If you wish to apply for the Fry Scholarship, you’ll first need to make sure that your school of choice has a program that is approved for VA benefits. Then you may apply online and fill out VA Form 22-5490 as with the DEA program. Children applying for the program who are not legally adults must have a parent or guardian sign the application.

Summary

The VA provides many financial benefits for both Veterans and their dependents or descendants. These educational assistance programs are great pathways for acquiring a college education or receiving on-the-job trade training for both children or spouses of 100% disabled or deceased Veterans or servicemembers.

Although the programs are relatively straightforward, applying for them and making sure your application package is airtight can be tricky. Berry Law has years of experience handling cases just like yours and can make sure that your family members receive the education benefits your service earned. Contact Berry Law today for assistance filing for benefits for the first time or appealing a VA decision.

Sources:

VA Education Benefits For Survivors And Dependents | VA.gov

Survivors’ And Dependents’ Educational Assistance | VA.gov

About VA DIC For Spouses, Dependents, And Parents | VA.gov

Survivors’ and Dependent’s – (DEA/Chapter35) Increased Educational Benefit – Education and Training | VA.gov

Fry Scholarships | VA.gov

DEPENDENTS’ APPLICATION FOR VA EDUCATION BENEFITS (Under Provisions of chapters 33 and 35, of title 38, USC) 22-5490 | VA.gov

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law Firm are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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