Did you know that if you have a 30% or higher disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you can receive additional tax-free benefits for your eligible dependents?
VA disability benefits are available to eligible veterans with service-connected conditions. The VA assigns veterans a combined disability rating between 0% and 100% depending on the severity of their combined disabilities; this rating then determines the amount of tax-free compensation a veteran will receive each month from the Veterans Benefits Administration.
Veterans with a combined disability rating of 20% or less are only eligible to receive monthly compensation based on their rating alone. Veterans with disability ratings of 30% or more are eligible for additional monthly compensation if they have eligible dependents.
Veterans with VA disability ratings of 30% or more may not have added eligible dependents at the time of their original award or may not have had eligible dependents at the time benefits were first awarded. We encourage these veterans to take a few moments to confirm the dependents listed on their VA award.
Who is eligible to be added as dependents?
Veterans with VA disability ratings of 30% or more can add eligible dependents to their award, increasing their overall monthly tax-free benefit. Eligible dependents include:
- A spouse (including spouses in same-sex marriages and common-law marriages)
- Children (including biological children, stepchildren, and adopted children) who are unmarried AND
- either under the age of 18, or
- between the ages of 18 and 23 years old and enrolled full-time in an approved course of education or training, or
- those who were declared permanently incapable of self-support before the age of 18
- Parents whose income and net worth are below the limit set by the law
If a veteran has lost a dependent because a child has aged out or stopped attending school, or has experienced the death or divorce of a spouse, they should advise the VA right away to avoid creating a debt.
How do I confirm or add dependents to my VA disability award?
You can confirm or add dependents to your VA disability award in one of two ways.
1. eBenefits (Premium Accounts)
By logging on to eBenefits.gov, veterans can easily confirm which dependents are on their award — and ensure they are receiving their full compensation entitlement from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
If you don’t have a premium eBenefits account, you can find instructions on how to register for an account here. Once you are logged in, select Dependents to see a list of all dependents currently on your award.
If any of the information on eBenefits is incorrect, select Add or Remove Dependents to edit. Follow the prompts and save your changes before closing out. For step-by-step instructions on how to add dependents on eBenefits, we encourage you to check out the VA’s instructional video here.
Note: Parents and spouses in common-law marriages cannot be added to your benefits online through eBenefits. To add a parent as a dependent, use VA Form 21-509, Statement of Dependency of Parents. To add a spouse from a common-law marriage, submit VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents.
2. VA Hotline
If you’re unable to register for a premium eBenefits account, you can call the VA Hotline at 800-827-1000 to request confirmation of the dependents on your award. If any of the information is incorrect, the VA can mail you a copy of the form needed to add your dependents.
You should consider submitting VA Form 21-674, Request for Approval of School Attendance (and its companion, VA Form 21-674b School Attendance Report), to the VA if the following apply:
- You do not see your child on your award, and
- Your child recently turned 18 and is:
- enrolled in high school, or
- about to enter college, or
- about to enter another education program
How much am I entitled to?
Your monthly entitlement depends on your combined disability rating, service-connected conditions, and number and type of eligible dependents.
For example, a veteran with a 30% combined disability rating and no dependents is entitled to $467.39 per month. However, if that same veteran is married with one child, they would be entitled to $563.39 per month.
To confirm what your monthly entitlement should be, we encourage you review the Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Tables (effective 12/01/21) on the VA’s website.
To avoid missing out on your benefits or creating a debt, adding and confirming dependents on your VA award is a crucial task. If you have questions about VA disability or adding eligible dependents to your award, contact our Veterans Services team.