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VA Helpless Child Benefits: What Every Veteran Needs To Know

VA Helpless Child Benefits: What Every Veteran Needs To Know

It is common for disabled Veterans to receive monthly compensation for disabilities they have endured because of their time in the service. When they claim a disability through the VA, they will usually get a rating that determines the monthly amount they will receive.

However, sometimes, Veterans have dependents who also need assistance. Some Veterans have children who suffer disabilities, both physical and mental. Because of this, extra benefits exist for Veterans who have disabled children.

This article will go over the information every Veteran needs to know about helpless child benefits. This will help ensure that not only are you covered by the VA but so are your children.

What Is the Helpless Child Benefit?

The helpless child benefit is a monthly compensation given in addition to your service-connected disability. Specifically, it is for those who have children who cannot be self-sufficient.

Because this is an additional monthly compensation, one must meet certain criteria to qualify for the additional benefit. For one, the child must be a child of a Veteran. From there, the child must be 18 years or older, have been diagnosed with a physical or mental disability before the age of 18 that leaves them permanently disabled, and be currently disabled.

We will break down each part further, but these are the general qualifications. If the child of a Veteran does not meet one of these criteria, they will likely not qualify for helpless child benefits.

Criteria for Being a Child

For the child to receive helpless child benefits, they have to be a legitimate child. There are a few things that qualify this. The child can either be a legitimate biological child, a legally adopted child, a stepchild who is a member of the Veteran’s household, or even an illegitimate child if child support payments are made.

As families are sometimes complicated, you can always consult expert advice if you are unsure about a particular child in your family.

Criteria for the Age of the Child

Children under 18 can be considered dependents on your VA claim, no matter their physical or mental status. However, once they turn 18, they are automatically removed from this. 

A Veteran cannot receive helpless child benefits until the child is past the age of 18. Before this, they are just considered a dependent and will be added to your regular VA rating from that.

Criteria for Diagnosis

For a child to qualify for helpless child benefits, you have to show that they were diagnosed with a condition before their 18th birthday. The easiest way to do this is to show a medical record that proves they were diagnosed with a medical condition before their 18th birthday. 

However, things can get complicated if the child showed evidence for a certain condition but was not diagnosed until after their 18th birthday. If this is the case, you will have to show an official diagnosis from a medical professional, as well as evidence that shows their condition existed before they turned 18.

The condition also has to render them permanently disabled and unable to support themselves. In this area, there are many things that the VA will consider, such as:

  • Is the child physically or mentally disabled?
  • Did the child attend school?
  • Has there been material improvement with the child’s condition?
  • Has the child ever been employed?
  • Is the child married? 

If the child cannot perform basic self-care routines, that would qualify them for helpless child benefits. Regarding the child’s schooling, there is nothing rigid about this, other than that it is considered. If the child experiences any improvement with their disability that allows them to care for themselves, they cannot qualify for the benefits.

As for employment, this is not a set-in-stone criterion either. Just because a child has worked before does not mean that they cannot get helpless child benefits. Similar to the child’s education, the VA will consider all that the child’s employment entailed. 

Finally, if the child is married, that again disqualifies the Veteran from receiving helpless child benefits. Out of all of the criteria considered for disabled children of Veterans, this one is by far the most complicated. Make sure to look over this list before you make a claim to receive helpless child benefits.

Criteria for Current Disability

This criterion makes sure that the child is currently experiencing the condition to the point where they are not self-sufficient. If anything changes, such as improvement or marriage, this will automatically disqualify them from receiving any helpless child benefits.

What Are the Rates?

Helpless child benefits are paid in addition to your current VA monthly payment. They will be paid for every additional child you have that is considered helpless by the VA. This is similar to the process of having dependents on your VA claim. However, the compensation is a little different because people who are physically or mentally disabled need extra care.

Healthcare Benefits for Children of Veterans

Children of Veterans are also eligible for different healthcare providers. The main one is TRICARE, which provides comprehensive coverage for dental plans, medicine, health plans, and prescriptions. 

If you do not qualify for TRICARE, you may be able to qualify for CHAMPVA, which will cover some of the costs of your health care.

Making a Claim

Once you check the criteria required for your child to qualify for helpless child benefits, you can make a claim. When you make a claim, you will need to get all the medical records you can to ensure the VA does not deny your claim. Often, when the VA denies claims for helpless children, they lack the necessary medical records needed to determine whether or not the child is considered helpless.

If you have already made your VA claim but want to add your child, you can. You need to do this before the VA makes a decision on your claim. You can do this by amending the claim you already made. 

If they have already made the decision, do not worry. You can always update it. However, know that this process can take a while before the VA makes its decision. They have a lot of information to review to reach a decision, and sometimes it takes months before a Veteran will hear back.

If you are having difficulty making a claim for your helpless child, contact Berry Law for help and information. Our seasoned attorneys will guide you through the process to get the benefits you need to care for your children. Even if your claim is denied, our team will help locate why it was denied and go from there. 

In situations where the process can be long and complicated, it is always best to have a team of people to help you out along the way.

Conclusion

Receiving compensation for your disability sometimes is not enough to cover all expenses, especially if you need extra assistance due to a child with a physical or mental disability. With all the work and extra expenses that come with caring for people with disabilities, you need all the help you can get.

This is why helpless child benefits exist. Along with your monthly VA rating, you will be able to receive extra monthly compensation so that you can care for your child.

If you need any more information or help regarding your VA claims, make sure to visit our website.

Sources:

Part III, Subpart iii, Chapter 7. A Child’s Incapacity for Self-Support. | VA 

An Overview of Veteran’s Benefits | Special Needs Alliance 

13 Benefits that you may not know for Children of Veterans | National Veterans Foundation 

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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