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Child Dependency


Child Dependency refers to a child who relies on a veteran or service member for financial support and care. This can include biological children, stepchildren, and adopted children who are under the age of 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 if attending an approved educational institution. Eligible children with permanent disabilities may receive child dependency benefits regardless of age.

Key Takeaways

  1. Child Dependency refers to the additional financial support and benefits provided to eligible dependents of veterans, such as monthly compensation, education, and medical benefits.
  2. Eligible dependents include unmarried biological, step, or adopted children under 18 years of age. In some cases, eligibility can also extend to those between 18 and 23 years if they are enrolled in an approved educational institution, or any age if they become permanently incapable of self-support before turning 18 due to a disability.
  3. To claim Child Dependency benefits, veterans must submit necessary forms and documents, such as proof of relationship, the child’s age and, if applicable, evidence of disability or school enrollment, to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).


The VA benefits term “Child Dependency” is crucial because it determines the eligibility and financial support that dependents of military veterans can receive.

This term considers children who directly rely on their veteran parent for their welfare, and it serves as the primary foundation for various services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

By understanding child dependency, the VA can offer essential benefits to eligible dependents such as health care, education support, and compensation.

Ultimately, this term plays a significant role in ensuring the well-being of veterans’ families and recognizes their contribution by providing deserved support and resources.


Child Dependency refers to the recognition of the financial responsibilities and the provision of support that military veterans have for their dependent children. The primary purpose of addressing child dependency within the context of VA benefits is to ensure that veterans and their families receive comprehensive assistance that acknowledges the impact of military service on their lives, and contributes to the overall well-being of the entire family unit.

By including child dependency in the evaluation of VA benefits, veterans who have dependent children can receive increased financial assistance, allowing them to manage the costs associated with raising their children, and to maintain a higher quality of life despite any service-related disabilities or difficulties they may be facing. In practice, the inclusion of child dependency can result in adjustments to monetary benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, such as Disability Compensation or Veterans Pension.

These benefits may be increased to accommodate the needs of the dependent children, helping to ease the financial burden associated with healthcare expenses, education, childcare, and other essential needs of growing children. This approach serves not only to support veterans and their families but also helps maintain a stable environment for the children, ensuring they have access to necessary resources, which enables them to maximize their opportunities for a successful future.

By recognizing and addressing child dependency when determining VA benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs demonstrates its commitment to the holistic well-being of the servicemembers under its care and their families, establishing itself as a supportive and compassionate organization.

Examples of Child Dependency

Educational Benefits: A military veteran’s child may be eligible for financial assistance through the VA’s Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program. This benefit provides funds for college tuition, vocational training, apprenticeships, or any other form of accredited post-secondary education. This helps dependents cover educational expenses, ensuring the military veteran’s dependents get the necessary education without excessive financial strain.

Health Care Benefits: Children of veterans can be eligible for comprehensive health care services through the VA’s Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA). CHAMPVA provides coverage for medical and dental services, prescription medication, mental health services, and more. For example, a veteran’s dependent child may have a medical condition requiring ongoing treatment, and CHAMPVA would provide the needed coverage to support that child’s medical needs.

DIC Benefits: Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monthly benefit paid to surviving spouses and eligible dependent children of servicemembers who died in the line of duty or veterans who died due to service-related causes. For example, if a military veteran passes away due to a service-connected injury or illness, their child might be eligible for the DIC benefit, which provides financial support to those who rely on the deceased military member for financial assistance.

FAQs on VA Benefits: Child Dependency

1. What is the Child Dependency benefit program?

Child Dependency benefit program is a monetary assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to qualifying veterans and their dependents. The program aids in supporting and financing the education and upbringing of veterans’ children.

2. Who is eligible to receive the Child Dependency benefit program?

The eligibility criteria for this program include: being a qualifying veteran or service member, having a dependent child(ren) under the age of 18, or unmarried children between 18 to 23 years old who are attending an approved school.

3. How do I apply for the Child Dependency benefit program?

You can apply for this program by directly visiting the nearest VA office or by completing and submitting VA Form 21-686c, the Declaration of Status of Dependents form, either online or by mail.

4. How will I receive the Child Dependency benefits once approved?

Once your application for the Child Dependency benefit program has been approved, you will receive the benefits through direct deposit to your bank account, or through a mailed check based on your preference.

5. Do the Child Dependency benefits cover my child’s entire education cost?

The Child Dependency benefits provide monthly financial assistance, but they may not cover the entire cost of your child’s education. It is essential to evaluate and plan for other financial resources to ensure the complete education cost is covered.

6. Are Child Dependency benefits taxable?

No, Child Dependency benefits received under the VA program are not considered taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

7. Can Child Dependency benefits be combined with other VA educational benefits, like GI Bill?

Yes, Child Dependency benefits can be combined with other VA educational benefits such as the GI Bill, but the total amount received may affect eligibility and payment rates for other benefits. It is advised to consult with a VA representative for specific details.

8. What should I do if my child’s status or my eligibility criteria change?

If there is a change in your eligibility criteria or your child’s status, you must promptly notify the VA by completing and submitting a VA Form 21-686c, the Declaration of Status of Dependents form. Reporting these changes will ensure accurate and timely payment of benefits.

9. Is there a deadline for applying for Child Dependency benefits?

There is no strict deadline for applying for these benefits, but it is recommended to apply as soon as you or your spouse become eligible for VA benefits. As the benefit payments are effective from the date of eligibility, applying early ensures that you receive the maximum benefits for your child.

10. Can stepparents and adoptive parents claim Child Dependency benefits for their dependents?

Yes, stepparents and adoptive parents can claim Child Dependency benefits for their dependents, provided they are qualifying veterans or service members and the child(ren) meet the VA’s criteria for dependency.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill Transferability
  • Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA)
  • Children of Veterans Tuition Waiver
  • CHAMPVA Medical Insurance

Sources for More Information