VA Dependent Benefits: The Veteran’s Guide

VA Dependent Benefits: The Veteran’s Guide

As a Veteran, you may know all about the healthcare benefits and disability compensation you can receive for your honorable service to America. 

But, what about your dependents? Your children, spouse, or family caregivers may be eligible for VA-dependent benefits. The VA offers several types of benefits to your dependents, ranging from healthcare benefits to education benefits and more

Read on for more information about VA-dependent benefits, what they include, and who qualifies to claim them.

Who Qualifies for VA Dependent Disability Benefits?

According to the VA, a dependent is financially reliant on a Veteran to remain safe and housed. Normally, this includes a spouse or significant other with significant financial ties to the Veteran and any children of the Veteran. 

However, it can also include elderly family members, such as the Veteran’s parents, if the Veteran cares for them physically and financially.

However, only some VA dependent benefits are available to some dependents, and some benefits become ineligible for claiming if a dependent reaches a certain age. Note that many dependent benefits are not available just to dependents of a deceased Veteran; most benefits are available to dependents while the Veteran is still alive.

After enrollment, most benefits awarded to biological children also apply to stepchildren, with a few exceptions.

Health Care Benefits

Spouses, surviving spouses, and dependent children or family members may qualify for various healthcare benefits. These include:

  • TRICARE program coverage. This includes comprehensive health coverage, such as prescription medications, dental care, and other health plans and programs for people with special needs. The Department of Defense manages the program.
  • Health insurance from the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). This is a good option if you don’t qualify for TRICARE.
  • Support and health services from the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. It offers services to family caregivers for eligible Veterans who were injured in the line of duty.

In addition to these generalized benefits, a dependent may qualify for specialized healthcare programs, such as the Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program. This is only available to biological children of Korean or Vietnam War Veterans diagnosed with spina bifida.

Education Benefits

Eligible Veterans’ dependents may also qualify for various educational benefits, called Chapter 35 benefits. Dependents are eligible for VA education benefits if they are:

  • The child or spouse of a service member AND
  • The Veteran fulfills certain eligibility requirements, such as being permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability or having died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001

Children of Veterans may qualify for two primary G.I. Bill programs, which offer educational assistance to both dependents of Veterans and survivors of Veterans. These include:

  • The Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry scholarship
  • The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program

Both programs offer monetary assistance or education and on-the-job training resources to qualified dependents of Veterans. Notably, spouses and children can get both G.I. Bill benefits simultaneously rather than having to choose between one or the other.

Employment Benefits

Dependent family members of a servicemember or Veteran with a service-connected disability could be eligible for employment benefits through Chapter 36 regulations. A dependent of an armed forces Veteran is eligible for educational and career counseling benefits if:

  • They are the dependent of a disabled Veteran with a high enough disability rating
  • They are eligible for certain VA education benefits, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill under Chapter 33.

With educational and career counseling, a dependent can receive help determining a career path, exploring their interests and abilities, and planning how to use VA benefits wisely. This can be particularly beneficial for young adults or students attending school who want to take full advantage of VA financial benefits to maximize their career prospects.

Home Loans for Surviving Spouses

Surviving spouses of deceased Veterans may qualify for VA home loan programs. These are VA-backed home mortgages.

Surviving spouses must have a Certificate of Eligibility, which the spouse can then show a lender that they qualify for the home loan benefit. 

To qualify for a CEO, at least one of the below descriptions must be true:

  • The surviving spouse’s Veteran must be missing in action
  • A prisoner of war
  • Have died while in service or from a service-connected disability
  • Have been totally disabled and then died (even if the disability was not the cause of death)

For most of these qualifications, the surviving spouse must not remarry unless they were 57 years old before December 16, 2003.

Federally backed VA home loans are beneficial because they usually have low interest rates and down payment requirements. In this way, surviving spouses of Veterans can secure affordable housing for themselves and any other dependents, such as children, without having to take out predatory loans from less reliable lenders.

Life Insurance Benefits

The VA offers life insurance for qualified Veterans, their spouses, and dependent children. Specifically, Veteran dependents may qualify for Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI). This covers spouses and dependent children of servicemembers already covered under full-time Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance policies.

To qualify for this life insurance benefit, one of the below things must be true:

  • A service member has to be on active duty and covered by SGLI full-time 
  • The service member is a member of the National Guard or Ready Reserve and is covered by SGLI full-time

Luckily, this life insurance covers both spouses and dependent children of servicemembers. Life insurance goes up to $100,000 of coverage for spouses and up to $10,000 of coverage for every dependent child. 

Notably, you don’t have to pay any premiums or fees for life insurance for a Veteran’s child, as coverage for them is free if you qualify.

Burial Benefits

Bearing a servicemember is always hard, but it can also be expensive. Surviving spouses of Veterans who died in the line of duty or from a service-connected disability may qualify for burial benefits like a Veterans burial allowance and memorial items if the Veteran qualifies for a military burial in the first place.

Additionally, surviving spouses can take advantage of bereavement counseling if they lose an active-duty service member, National Guard soldier, or Reservist.

The VA Survivors Pension

The VA Survivors Pension is a monthly payment to qualified unmarried dependent children and surviving spouses of wartime Veterans. A dependent is eligible for this regular pension if one of the below things is true:

  • The Veteran meets service active duty requirements as outlined on the VA website (e.g., entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980, and served at least 90 days an active military service with at least one day in a wartime period)
  • The pension claimant has a net worth below congressional limits. The net worth is the value of everything the claimant owns except for any debts

Furthermore, children of deceased wartime Veterans are eligible for this benefit only if they are unmarried and:

  • They are under the age of 18 OR
  • They are under the age of 23 and attending a VA-approved school OR
  • They are unable to care for themselves because of a disability that occurred before the age of 18

VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC) is available to some Veteran dependents. It’s only available if those dependents survive a servicemember who died in the line of duty or died from a service-related injury or illness.

The VA DIC is a tax-free monetary benefit that can help pay for everyday expenses, medical care bills, and funeral expenses. Surviving spouses of Veterans can receive up to $1562.74 per month. Children can receive $327.99 per month or $659.83 per month, depending on their age and whether they are in a qualified school program or disabled.

Surviving spouses and dependent children previously denied this monetary benefit should refile a new application because the PACT Act changed the qualifications for Veteran benefits across several aspects. 

Contact Berry Law Today

If you have several benefits and are a Veteran, those dependents could be entitled to dependent benefits for their education, healthcare, and more. Knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys like Berry Law can help determine which dependent benefits your spouse or children qualify for and help you start claiming those benefits immediately.

Contact us today for a free consultation and more information.


VA Health care services for spouses, dependents, and family caregivers | Veterans Affairs

Employment Benefits For Dependent Family Members | Veterans Affairs

VA Home Loan Programs For Surviving Spouses | Veterans Affairs

VA Education Benefits For Survivors And Dependents | Veterans Affairs

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) | Veterans Affairs

VA Survivors Pension Benefits | Veterans Affairs

VA Burial Benefits And Memorial Items |

About VA DIC For Spouses, Dependents, And Parents | Veterans Affairs

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law 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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