Getting A Medical Nexus
With your diagnosis and service connection in hand, the last step to qualifying for VA disability compensation is getting a medical nexus. This is effectively a statement from your doctor certifying that your condition was at least as likely as not caused by your military service. If you have your service record with you during your diagnosing appointment, you might get this nexus the same day as your diagnosis.
A medical nexus ensures that veterans only claim compensation for conditions related to their military service. You cant get in a car crash five years after you leave the service and claim disability for a traumatic brain injury. However, if you got a concussion while you were in the military, you may have a viable claim with the VA.
One of our Veterans Disability Lawyers talks about the missing link in most VA disability applications that are denied: The Nexus Letter
When You Can Add A New Child
VA disability claims can take months or even years to be decided. So what happens if you get married or adopt a child after you submit your VA disability claim? You can submit an amendment to your appeal any time after you submit it, but before the VA makes a decision about your disability claim.
If you add a new child to your household after the VA makes a decision about your case, you can always update your claim. You can send a request for amendment to the VA once you meet the requirements for adding a child to your household. You will need to submit the appropriate evidence, and the VA may take a few months to make a decision about your amendment.
Va Benefits: How To Add Or Remove Dependents With Va Form 21
Have you gotten married or experienced other changes in your family since you applied for benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs? If you are a retired or separated military member who has had a change in marital status, family size, or similar circumstances, youll need to update VA records to include information about those changes.
Failing to do so can affect you and your spouse/dependents ability to claim certain VA education benefits such as the Fry Scholarship or Chapter 35 DEA benefits.
That is why if you are a military member with a spouse or dependents, you should know about VA Form 21-686c, the application used to add or remove dependents from your veteran benefits. Knowing about the form, when it is required, and how it is used can help you avoid delays in updating the VA.
You will use VA Form 21-686c to add those you financially support. The list of those who may be added to your VA benefits includes:
- Unmarried dependent children under 18
- Adult children between 18 and 23 who are in school,
- Parents who are financially dependent on you
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How To Remove A Dependent Using Paper Forms
At the time of this writing, the VA official site page on dependency claims does not include instructions for changing status using paper forms. You may be able to accomplish the status change by calling the VA directly at 1-800-827-1000.
One reason the VA may not require you to use a paper form is that removing a dependent is much easier than adding one. There are no requirements for further development of a claim where a dependent is being removed than to inform the Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to the VA official site, If you get divorced, youll want to notify us right away. You dont need to send or upload supporting documents to eBenefits in this case.
Removing a dependent child is more complex and may require the use of the same VA form you used to submit the original claim, VA Form 21-686c Declaration of Status of Dependents. Call the VA directly at the number given above to get assistance with filling out this form or contact a VSO to help you.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
How To Add Dependents To Va Disability Benefits
When you want to add children or a spouse as a dependent for your VA disability benefits, you can apply electronically using the VAs eBenefits web portal. Here, you can submit forms and documentation of disability or school attendance. However, if you want to add a parent as a dependent for your VA disability benefits, you can only apply by mail.
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How Do I Know Whether Im Already Receiving Dependent Benefits
You can easily check on the details of your VA disability benefits through the eBenefits system. Simply log into your eBenefits account and check Dependents under the My Profile section. If you see your dependents listed, that means you should already be receiving military dependent benefits on their behalf. If they are not listed, you can go ahead and file a claim to begin receiving VA benefits for them.
What Is Va Disability Back Pay
VA disability back pay is the money owed to a veteran that the VA should have been paying them from the time they became entitled to compensation through the time the VA actually granted the veterans claim. The VA can often take months or years to grant benefits, depending on several factors. However, the longer you wait for a decision, the more back pay you will be owed.
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Education For Spouse And Children
Survivors & Dependents Educational Assistance is an education benefit that can provide up to 36 months of full-time or equivalent benefits to the spouse and children of most 100% service connected disabled veterans for:
- College, Business, Technical or Vocational Courses
- High School Diploma or GED
- Independent Study or Distance Learning courses
- Correspondence Courses
- Apprenticeship/On-the-Job Training
- Remedial, Deficiency, and Refresher Training
- The cost of tests for licenses or certifications needed to get, keep, or advance in a job
Spouses have up to 10 years from the date the VA determines that the spouse is eligible for VA Dependent Benefits. Children may use the benefit between the ages of 18 and 26.
Detailed information about DEA can be found here.
Can I File A Claim For Dependent Benefits By Mail
Yes, absolutely. While the VA strongly encourages veterans to apply online, simply because of ease of use and the streamlined response time, you can submit paper forms to add dependents to your VA disability benefits.
To add a child or spouse, you can mail in VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents. To add a full-time student dependent, age 18-23, you should submit VA Form 21-674: Request for Approval of School Attendance in addition to VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents. To add dependent parents, the VA requires you to submit VA Form 21P-509, Statement of Dependency of Parent. All forms can be mailed to the VAs claims processing center for review.
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Proving A Service Connection
Once you have an official diagnosis for your condition, youll need to be able to point to a specific incident in your military service that caused it. This could include an accident, injury, set of conditions you served in, or even treatment you received. In some cases, having served in certain areas during set periods of time can give you a service connection for your condition. These are called presumptive conditions.
In order to prove a service connection, youll need to get hands on your military service record. You should be able to download this through your free eBenefits account. You can also visit your local VA office for help getting a copy of this document.
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You Become Responsible For A Dependent Parent Whose Income Falls Below A Certain Threshold
Many children reach a point where they take on financial responsibility for aging parents. If this is the case for you, and if your parents combined income and net worth are below a certain level, you may be able to add your parent to your VA disability benefits as a dependent. To qualify, you must be responsible for the direct care of your dependent parents.
How To Add Or Remove A Dependent From Va Compensation
You can add a dependent if:
- You get married
- You have or adopt a child
- Your child is between 18 and 23 years old and enrolled in school full time
- We determine that your child, who is at least 18 years old, became permanently disabled before turning 18
- You become the caregiver for a parent whose income and net worth is below a certain amount
What Va Form 21
This form is required in certain casesthe death of a dependent or spouse, after a dependent child reaches age 24 or gets married, basically any time the VA needs to stop paying a benefit because the recipient has died or no longer qualifies.
Failure to report such changes may result in being overpaid by the VA and the Department of Veterans Affairs will seek to recoup such payments once discovered. Thats something veterans should avoid by reporting the changes as soon as possible.
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Additional Va Dependent Benefits
There are some additional benefits available to some survivors of disabled veterans. See our Survivor and Dependents page for an overview.
We strongly recommend that you enlist the services of a Veteran Service Officer before you submit your application for any of the above benefits. They will review your application, helping ensure it has all the information the VA requires. If you do not have a VSO yet, the NVF will help you find one. Simply call us at 888-777-4443 for information or to ask us more about VA Dependent Benefits.
Is There A Dependent Parent Income Limit
No. However, a monthly income below $400 for a single parent and $660 for a parent and a spouse automatically qualifies the veteran for the VA disability dependent parent program as long as they are dependent on the veteran for their care. The spouse of the parent does not need to be the biological or adoptive parent of the veteran because the VA recognizes that a parent of a veteran may remarry and still qualify.
If the parent has other family members living in the parents household, the monthly income threshold for conclusive dependency is raised $185 for each additional person. So, for example, if a veterans parents live with the veterans grandmother, the maximum monthly income to conclusively qualify would be $745 rather than $660.
The income that is counted includes all sources of income including:
- Wages or salary
- Contributions by other family members
- Social security benefits
- Dividends and proceeds from the sale of stock
- Interest income
- Business income, including rent and farm income
Here is a video explaining how the VA combined ratings table works from one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers.
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How To Add A Dependent Through Ebenefits
Veterans who have at least a 30% combined VA disability rating can now use eBenefits to apply to add a dependent to their compensation award. Part 1 of this two-part video series walks through the step-by-step process for adding a dependent spouse and child under the age of 18 through eBenefits. VA strongly recommends that Veterans file their dependency claim through eBenefits, even if they already have a paper claim pending.
Filing online gives Veterans a faster, and in some cases a same day response, and allows VA payments to begin more quickly. Start your online dependency claim today at .
How Va Form 21
This form asks you for information needed by the Department of Veterans Affairs about the spouse, parent, or dependent you wish to add / remove from your VA benefits. You should report births, deaths, marriages of dependent children, etc.
Failure to report changes that result in you being overpaid by the VA will result in the Department of Veterans Affairs contacting you to pay back the overage. You will be required to pay back any benefits arriving after the death of a spouse or dependent, and the same is true if a dependent child gets married or reaches age 24 and is still receiving VA benefits.
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Who The Va Considers To Be A Dependent For This Process
Dependent status for this application process is considered to be one of the following:
- A spouse you are legally married to
- The spouse in a common-law marriage
- Children who are unmarried and either under the age of 18, attending school full-time between the ages of 18 and 23, or children who were seriously disabled prior to their 18th birthday
- Parents in your direct care that meet certain need-based requirements.
Some outdated online resources may claim that same-sex couples or common-law couples are not eligible, but this is not true according to documents retrieved from the VA official site.
There is a very important caveat here. Veterans are permitted to add parents and common-law spouses. But they are NOT permitted to use the VA eBenefits portal to do so and must submit paper forms. In such cases it may be wise to consider using a Veteran Service Organization to assist you in filing your claim.
When Not To Use Va Form 21
Do not complete this form to add a dependent child who is older than 23. You WILL need to use this form to REMOVE a dependent who has aged out or who has gotten married. You should not fill out this form to add someone the VA does not consider a qualifying dependent or spouse.
Who does the VA consider a qualified dependent?
- Unmarried children under the age of 18 or who are 18 to 23 years old and attending school full-time.
- A disabled adult child who experienced the disability before age 18.
- Dependent parents who live with you and rely on you for support. Need-based guidelines may apply.
VA rules do not focus on the status of a parent or child. Stepparents, foster children, adopted children, etc. are all considered.
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Va Disability Back Pay: Retroactive Benefits & Va Back Pay Timeline
Veterans who are injured or disabled during military service are entitled to financial compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs . To earn these benefits, veterans must file a claim detailing the severity of their injury and the in-service event that caused it.
Although veterans can submit a claim soon after their service, they may not receive any benefits until VA finishes processing their decision. Veterans will receive VA disability back pay for the time between their initial claim and VAs first payout.
What Monthly Benefits Are Available
Many monthly benefits are available for Veterans with a service connected disability rating of 30% or more.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs increases compensation available depending on disability rating
- At death, a surviving spouse and other dependents become eligible for Dependency Indemnity Compensation and is available to spouses, children, and parents
- Education provides up to 36 months of full-time or equivalent education benefits to spouses and children of most 100% service-connected disabled Veterans.
- College program
- Remedial/refresher training
- Costs for tests and licensure/certifications
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How To Add Dependents To Your Veteran Benefits
Changes in marital status, family size, and other factors are common, but when veterans need to add or remove someone from their VA benefits, there is a specific procedure that must be followed. Adding a new child, a new spouse or a parent who has come to depend on you financially to your military benefits is a process that requires an application and approval.
Thats why if you are a retired or separated military member with a spouse or dependents, you should know about VA Form 21-686c, the application used to add or remove dependents from your benefits.
You can use VA Form 21-686c to add those you financially support including unmarried dependent children under 18, adult children between 18 and 23 who are in school, and you can use it for a dependent parent as well as a spouse.
What Is The Va Disability Dependent Parent Program
The VA disability dependent parent program is a benefit that is paid to disabled veterans with a disability rating of at least 30% for parents who are dependent on the veteran. The VA is vague about the types of situations that qualify veterans to claim parents as dependents. Instead, the VA uses phrases like financially dependent, caregiver, and direct care to describe the relationship between the veteran and the veterans parents.
However, some examples of the situations where a veteran may receive additional disability benefits for dependent parents include:
- Dementia: If a parent has dementia and you live with your parents to take care of them, they may qualify as a dependent.
- Mobility: If you spend a significant amount of time caring for your parents because one or both of your parents use a wheelchair or scooter, they may be dependents even if they do not live in your home.
- Home care: When your parents are confined to your home or their home due to medical issues and you provide substantial time and effort helping them, they might be dependents.
- Assisted living: If your parents are in a residential facility that you pay for, they may be dependent on you.
- Financial dependence: When parents income is below the statutory threshold or their expenses exceed their income and assets, you may be eligible for VA dependent pay even if they do not have any major medical problems.
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