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VA Benefits for Stepchildren and Dependents of Veterans

VA Benefits for Stepchildren and Dependents of Veterans

As a Veteran, you can receive many benefits for the time you have served. However, you may be wondering who else will be able to receive benefits, especially those that are close to you. Though they may not have served, you may need more compensation if you have dependents.

In this article, we will go over the VA benefits for stepchildren and dependents of Veterans..

Can Stepchildren and Dependents Qualify For VA Benefits?

Many Veterans have children or dependents that can qualify for benefits for their father’s or mother’s time in service. This goes for those dependent on a living Veteran or a child of a deceased Veteran. For a child to qualify for benefits, they have to be either a biological, adopted child or stepchild of the Veteran.

The child or dependent must also be under 18, or between 18 and 23 if they are pursuing education. If they cannot support themselves before they are 18, they qualify as well.

How Do I Prove It?

Biological Child

To prove that your child is your biological child, the VA will require a written statement with your child’s age, date of birth, and social security number. If they require any more information, it will be a public record of some sort, such as a birth certificate.

Adopted Child

For the adopted child to qualify, it has to be shown that the child was adopted before they were 18. It would have to be shown that the adopted child lives in your household, as well as a copy of the adoption decree, proving that you are the adoptive parent.

Helpless Child

If your child has a physical or mental disability that permanently makes them incapable of self-support before they have turned 18, they can qualify for benefits. When you make your claim for your helpless child, you should submit medical records to show that your child had physical or mental incapability before they turned 18 and therefore qualifies as a helpless child. They will remain in this status as long as they do not get married, employed, or are capable of self-support.

What Are the Benefits That a Stepchild or Dependent Can Receive?

Dependents of Veterans can receive many benefits if they qualify once a claim is made. It will take into account what your VA rating is and how many children you have. There is a baseline bonus for those that have a VA rating of at least 30%. If you have more than one child, you will receive an extra stipend depending on your VA rating. The stipends will vary, such as an extra $25 for 30% or 34$ for 40%. If your child is over 18 (and under 23) and enrolled in school, you can receive stipends for that as well.

Most other benefits include health care and health services for the children:

TRICARE: TRICARE provides comprehensive health programs and coverage, ranging from things such as medicines, prescriptions, dental plans, health plans, and even programs for those with intellectual or physical disability.

Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers: This is for children of Veterans who act as the primary caregiver for an injury caused by their parent’s service. The benefits from this program include access to health insurance, financial stipend, mental health services, respite care, and caregiver training.

CHAMPVA: If you do not qualify for TRICARE, then CHAMPVA will be your next best option. They will help cover some of your health care services and supplies.

(Dependency and Indemnity Compensation) DIC: DIC is for those who are the children or dependents of a deceased Veteran. It is a tax-free, monthly benefit that has its own exclusive rate. To qualify for this, the service member had to have died while on active duty, active duty training, or inactive duty training, or had died from a service-related injury or condition. 

How To Add Your Child

VA disability claims can take a long time before they are accepted. They have to review a lot of information for you to get the compensation that you deserve. If you have already submitted your VA claim, and you have a child or adopted one after you have submitted it, you may be wondering how you can add your child. 

The answer is that you can amend your VA claim, but you have to do this before they decide on it. If they have already made a decision and you want to update it, you can still do that as well. However, just know that it may take a few months before the update gets approved.

If you have a stepchild, you will have to prove to the VA that you provide support for your stepchild. The VA defines a stepchild as a legitimate or illegitimate child of a Veteran spouse or a child of a surviving spouse whose marriage to a Veteran the VA deemed a valid marriage. The stepchild should be living in the Veteran’s home. 

If the Veteran has passed away, they would be required to have been living at the house when the Veteran died. This is the best way to ensure your claim gets approved. 

There are a few valid reasons if the stepchild lives in another house, whether it is for health reasons, fulfilling an obligation, or if the stepparent or stepchild is in jail. The VA will make an initial call about the status of your stepchild when they review your claim. If your stepchild does not meet the initial requirements, the VA may temporarily remove your stepchild from any benefits you receive. This decision is not final, though, and if they deem the child to be a valid stepchild, you will be paid for the months that your stepchild was removed.

The process can be a little more difficult when trying to get benefits for a non-biological child, whether adopted or a stepchild. Do not let this discourage you. With the proper evidence, you can get your claim approved by the VA to get additional compensation.

Passing Away

Sadly, some die during service or die from a condition related to the time a Veteran served. The VA has many ways in which it helps out dependents of those who passed away in service. Since December of 2017, the compensation rate for those related to a Veteran who has died is $1,283.11 monthly. This is a tax-free benefit for those eligible to receive the compensation, whether through marriage or a child of the Veteran. 

When you go to make a (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation) DIC claim, it is advised that you have legal counsel and a lawyer to help back up your claim. Though it is not required, the VA often makes mistakes, or the VA has determined that the Veteran’s death was not connected to anything in the service. If this happens, then you will need experienced lawyers to help you appeal the denial. 

At Berry Law, we have the experience that will help you get the compensation you deserve. We are able to handle a multitude of claims that include vehicle accidents, traumatic brain damage, chemical exposure, combat injuries, etc., and show that it is related to your Veteran’s death. In this process, we can help gather the evidence and testify on your behalf the compensation you deserve.

Conclusion

Going through all of the details for the benefits for your stepchild or dependent can be cumbersome and confusing. What is important to remember is that if you can prove that your stepchild or dependent is valid, you will be able to get additional benefits for that. When you make a claim, make sure that you have everything you need to prove your case so there are no future issues with the VA down the road. Often mistakes are made when not enough information is gathered in the beginning. Do not let this happen to you. Make sure you prepare yourself so that you and your family get the compensation you all deserve.

For any more information or answers to questions you may have, please feel free to visit our website so we can assist you.

Sources:

VA Benefits Available to Vets’ Parents and Children

VA Benefits for Children of Veterans Explained

How To Get Your 5 Adopted Step Children On Your VA Disability Benefits

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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