VA Form 21-686c: Declaration of Status of Dependents

VA Form 21-686c: Declaration of Status of Dependents

As a military Veteran, you may not just qualify for disability benefits for yourself. Your dependents – such as unmarried children or your spouse – may also qualify for VA compensation, tuition reduction, and other benefits. However, for those dependents to get those benefits, you will likely need to fill out VA Form 21-686c.

Read on if you’re unsure what VA Form 21-686c is or how to fill it out. We’ll break down everything you need to know about VA Form 21-686c and how to declare the status of dependents under your care.

What Is a Qualifying Dependent According to the VA?

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, a qualifying dependent is an individual who relies on you for financial support. Here are some examples:

  • Your spouse, if your spouse relies on your income for their financial stability
  • Unmarried children under the age of 18 or children who are 18 to 23 years old and attending school full-time. A “dependent child” term may apply to a biological, adopted, or stepchild equally
  • A seriously disabled adult child. The child in question will likely need to have acquired their disability before the age of 18
  • Dependent parents who live with you if you provide them with direct care. Furthermore, your dependent parents’ income has to fall below federal poverty guidelines for them to qualify as a dependent for VA benefits

If you have one or more qualifying dependents, they may qualify for VA benefits like tuition assistance or financial aid for school if your disability percentage also meets the qualifications. Furthermore, they could qualify for healthcare and medical coverage benefits. To claim those benefits, you will need to complete VA Form 21-686c, the Declaration of Status of Dependents.

When Should You Add Dependents To Your VA Benefits?

Generally, adding dependents to your VA benefits package is wise when you file for service-connected compensation for the first time. If you do this, the VA will likely receive all of your paperwork simultaneously and be able to decide on all of it at once, minimizing the time that you or your dependents have to wait for financial aid or other benefits. It is important to note that a claim to add a dependent will likely only be approved once a Veteran’s disabilty rating reaches 30% or higher. 

However, you can always add or remove dependents from your VA benefits later on if your family situation shifts. For example, if you divorce and remarry and want your new spouse to receive VA benefits, you can complete a new copy of VA Form 21-686c.

How Do You Fill Out VA Form 21-686c?

Fortunately, filling out VA Form 21-686c is fairly straightforward, although what you need to include depends on which dependents you wish to add to your VA benefits.

To begin filling out VA Form 21-686c, start by filling in your first and last name, including your middle initial, date of birth, VA file number, and other identifying information. Then move on to the rest of the form and determine which dependents you wish to add or remove.

Adding or Removing a Spouse

If you want to add or remove a spouse from your VA benefits package, look at Section II, then provide the following information about your spouse:

  • Their full name
  • Their date of birth
  • Their Social Security number
  • The date and place of your marriage to the spouse
  • Whether your spouse is a Veteran as well
  • Whether you were married by a religious officiant or a justice of the peace
  • Whether you were married through a common-law marriage

On top of this information, accurately indicate whether you and your spouse were previously married to other people. If so, include details such as:

  • The name of the former spouse
  • The date and place of the former marriage
  • The reason for the termination of the former marriage (e.g., death, divorce, annulment)
  • The date and place of the marriage’s termination

Be sure to attach a copy of the marriage certificate with your current spouse and the divorce decree or death certificate related to a previous marriage, if applicable.

Section IV

If you’re reporting a divorce and want to remove your former spouse from VA benefits, you will likely need to complete Section IV. Complete this as quickly as possible after your divorce finalizes so you don’t receive an overpayment of VA benefits, which you will likely have to return.

Section VI

If your spouse is recently deceased, complete Section VI. You’ll have to provide the name of your recently deceased spouse and the date and place of their death. Report the death of your spouse as quickly as possible to avoid VA benefits overpayment.

Adding or Removing a Child

Many Veterans want to add their children to their VA benefits packages. To do this, move on to Section III. VA Form 21-686c gives you enough for them to add up to four dependents, so you may need to use the addendum section if you want to add more than four children to your benefits.

For each child, including their:

  • Name
  • Social Security number
  • Date and place of birth
  • Child status (i.e., biological child, adopted child, or stepchild)
  • Name and address of the person the child lives with if the child does not live with you (e.g., they live with your divorced ex-spouse)

Furthermore, the VA requires you to include a copy of each child’s birth certificate or adoption paperwork, plus a copy of the child’s Social Security card. If you wish to add a stepchild, include a copy of your marriage certificate to the stepchild’s biological parent.

Section IV

Use Section IV if you want to report the death of the dependent child. You’ll need to include the child’s name, date, and place of death.

Section VII

If you’re reporting the marriage of a child, fill out Section VII. Remember, married children aren’t eligible for VA benefits, no matter how old. Include the name of the child and the date of the marriage.

Adding a Parent Dependent

If you want to add a dependent parent to your VA benefits, you have to complete VA Form 21p-509: Statement of Dependency of Parent. You’ll also need to be a Veteran with a 30% disability rating or higher or receive a VA education benefit.

According to the VA, a parent includes a biological, adopted, foster, or stepparent. When you download VA Form 21p-509, fill out crucial information, then answer the questions below. You’ll need to provide your parent’s date of birth, Social Security number, and full name.

Some questions require you to give details about your parent’s financial situation, like their networks, the property they own, etc. You’ll also need the present market value and encumbrance of your parent, plus the name of your parent’s current spouse if they are married.

Since this is a lot of information, meet with your parent before filling out this form or have them fill out VA Form 21p-509 with you. This is the best way to ensure the information you provide to the VA is accurate.

Submitting VA Form 21-686c

When all the information on your VA Form 21-686c has been filled out, you can submit it in one of two ways.

First, you can mail it to this address:

  • Department of Veteran Affairs
  • Evidence Intake Center
  • PO Box 4444
  • Janesville, WI 53547

You can also submit the form online by going to the VA website

Contact Berry Law

With VA Form 21-686c, you can provide your dependents with a wide range of VA benefits, from tuition assistance to health care. Therefore, filling out VA Form 21-686c immediately is a good idea.

If you need help appealing a denied claim or increasing your VA rating, Berry Law can help you fill out as many copies of VA Form 21-686c as you need and ensure you fill out your form correctly to maximize its acceptance speed. The sooner you contact us, the sooner your dependents can enjoy VA benefits, so call us today.


VA Form 21-686c |

What Medical Benefits are Available for Veterans and Their Families? | 

instructions for statement of dependency of parent(s) va form 21p-509 | Veterans Affairs

View Or Change Dependents On Your VA Disability Benefits | 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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