* This site is privately owned and is not affiliated or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.

Change of Dependency Status


Change of Dependency Status, in the context of VA benefits, refers to a modification in a veteran’s family or dependent situation. This change could occur due to marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or the death of a dependent. A Change of Dependency Status may impact a veteran’s benefits, such as housing allowance, and needs to be reported to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Key Takeaways

  1. Change of Dependency Status refers to a modification in a veteran’s family situation, which may affect their eligibility for VA benefits or the amount received. Common factors include marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or a child reaching the age of 18.
  2. When a dependency status changes, veterans are responsible for informing the Department of Veterans Affairs by submitting the appropriate forms and documentation. Failing to timely report changes could result in overpayments or underpayments in benefits.
  3. Depending on the type of benefits (e.g. VA disability compensation, education benefits, or pension), different forms and procedures are required to report changes in dependency status. To avoid processing delays, veterans should ensure all necessary forms are completed accurately.


The VA benefits term “Change of Dependency Status” is important because it directly affects the amount and type of benefits a veteran or their dependent may receive.

A change in dependency status can occur due to various life events, such as marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, or the death of a dependent.

Keeping the Department of Veterans Affairs informed of these changes ensures that the veteran and their dependents receive the appropriate benefits according to their current circumstances.

Timely reporting of dependency status changes is essential for accurate benefit calculations, preventing overpayment or underpayment, and maintaining compliance with VA regulations.


The purpose of the Change of Dependency Status in VA benefits is to ensure that veterans and their families receive appropriate and accurate support based on their current family circumstances. This aspect of the benefits system is designed to recognize and account for the dynamic nature of life events, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or the passing of a dependent.

As these changes occur, it is vital for the Veterans Affairs system to adjust the veterans’ benefits accordingly to properly meet and support their evolving needs. The Change of Dependency Status is used for processes including, but not limited to, updating beneficiary details, adjusting compensation payments, and tailoring educational or healthcare benefits.

By submitting a Change of Dependency Status, eligible veterans can receive an increased monthly allowance to help support the needs of their new dependents, such as newborns or spouses. Additionally, it allows for modifications to any existing benefits, ensuring that education, healthcare, and other essential services are distributed fairly and efficiently.

The most important aspect of the Change of Dependency Status is maintaining an accurate reflection of a veteran’s family situation to ensure continued support relevant to their needs.

Examples of Change of Dependency Status

Marriage or Divorce: A veteran gets married or divorced, leading to a change in their dependency status. When a veteran gets married, they may be eligible to add their spouse to their VA benefits, increasing their compensation. Conversely, in the case of a divorce, a veteran must report the change to the VA, which may result in a reduction in benefits.

Birth or Adoption of a Child: When a veteran becomes a parent, either through the birth or adoption of a child, their dependency status changes. The veteran then has the option to add the child to their VA benefits, potentially increasing benefits such as education, health care, and certain pension benefits. The veteran must report this change to the VA so that the appropriate adjustments can be made.

Death of a Dependent: If a veteran loses a spouse or dependent child due to death, they must report this change in dependency status to the VA. This change can result in the reduction of dependency-related benefits such as compensation and pension. However, the veteran may be eligible for other benefits, such as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), which can help surviving spouses or dependent children in the event of the veteran’s death.

FAQs on Change of Dependency Status for VA Benefits

1. What is a change of dependency status?

A change of dependency status occurs when there is a change in a veteran’s family situation, such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or the death of a dependent. These changes may affect a veteran’s entitlement to VA benefits and services.

2. How do I report a change in my dependency status to the VA?

You can report a change in your dependency status by submitting a VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents, through the VA.gov website, by mail, or in person at your nearest VA regional office.

3. How does a change in dependency status affect my VA benefits?

A change in dependency status may increase or decrease your monthly disability compensation or pension. For example, if you get married or have a child, you may be entitled to additional benefits. On the other hand, if you get divorced or your child is no longer considered a dependent, your benefits may be reduced.

4. How long does it take for the VA to process a change in dependency status?

The processing time for changes in dependency status varies depending on the complexity of the situation and the workload at the VA regional office handling your case. Typically, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for the change to be processed and for your benefits to be adjusted accordingly.

5. Can I receive back pay for my increased benefits after a change in dependency status?

Yes, in most cases, if you are eligible for increased benefits due to a change in dependency status, the VA will pay you retroactively from the effective date of the change. However, you must report the change in status within one year from the date of the event to receive back pay from the effective date.

6. Can my benefits be reduced retroactively if my dependency status changes?

In some cases, the VA may reduce your benefits retroactively if they determine that you were overpaid due to a change in your dependency status. This can happen if you failed to report a change in your status in a timely manner or if there was an error in the calculation of your benefits.

7. How do I appeal a decision regarding my change in dependency status?

If you disagree with the VA’s decision regarding your change in dependency status, you can file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year from the date of the decision. This will initiate the appeals process, which may include a hearing and additional review by the VA or the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Survivors Pension Benefits
  • Dependent Education Assistance (DEA)
  • Dependent Health Care Coverage (CHAMPVA)
  • Dependency Allowance

Sources for More Information