We are privately owned and not affiliated or endorsed by any government agency.

Take the Benefits Quiz

Dependency Determination

Definition Dependency determination is a process conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish and verify a veteran’s family members as dependents. These dependents, usually a spouse or children under age 18, are considered eligible to receive certain VA benefits and services. The determination is based on factors such as marriage, birth or […]


Dependency determination is a process conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish and verify a veteran’s family members as dependents. These dependents, usually a spouse or children under age 18, are considered eligible to receive certain VA benefits and services. The determination is based on factors such as marriage, birth or adoption records, and financial dependence on the veteran.

Key Takeaways

  1. Dependency Determination refers to the process of establishing a veteran’s dependent(s) as eligible for receiving VA benefits, such as healthcare, education, and financial assistance.
  2. This determination is important for the VA to properly calculate and distribute benefits to the eligible family members of veterans, such as spouses, children, and in some cases, parents.
  3. Documentation, such as marriage and birth certificates or adoption records, are required to validate dependent relationships and ensure accurate benefits distribution for the veteran’s family.


The term “Dependency Determination” is essential in the context of VA benefits because it establishes an individual’s eligibility for certain benefits and financial support in relation to their connection with a veteran.

Dependency Determination validates the relationship between a family member, such as a spouse or a child, and a veteran who has served in the military.

This validation ensures that those who are financially or emotionally reliant on the veteran due to their military service can access critical resources like healthcare, education, housing, and financial assistance.

In essence, Dependency Determination plays an integral role in providing support and care to the families of veterans by helping them obtain the necessary benefits they are entitled to.


Dependency determination serves a critical purpose in the realm of VA benefits, as it ensures that eligible family members of veterans receive the support they need and are entitled to. Such family members could include dependents like a spouse, children, or parents who rely on the veteran’s income for sustenance and well-being.

Through dependency determination, the Department of Veterans Affairs establishes who is eligible for VA benefits and in doing so, it helps bridge the financial gap that may emerge due to the veteran’s service-related disabilities, retirement, or even death. Consequently, this process safeguards the welfare of those who have made sacrifices for their nation through their family ties.

The dependency determination process considers multiple factors, such as the relationship with the veteran, shared financial obligations, and the dependent’s needs, to accurately identify eligible beneficiaries. VA benefits covered under dependency determination may encompass educational, healthcare, compensation, or pension support.

Moreover, dependents’ benefits can extend to cover disability compensation, survivor pensions, and additional disability pay in certain cases. By conscientiously deliberating the specifics of dependencies, the entire process plays an invaluable role in uplifting and supporting service members’ families, thereby recognizing their immense support and integral place in the veterans’ lives.

Examples of Dependency Determination

A dependency determination in the context of VA benefits refers to establishing an eligible relationship between a veteran and their dependents, such as a spouse, a child, or a dependent parent. This allows the dependents to be eligible for certain benefits and compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).Three real-world examples of dependency determination for VA benefits include:

A veteran, John, served in the military and now has a service-connected disability. He is married to Jane and has a son named Michael. To apply for increased disability compensation due to having dependents, John needs to submit the appropriate forms and documentation to the VA, such as a marriage certificate and his son’s birth certificate, showing their relationship. Once dependency is determined, John’s disability compensation may increase due to his dependents, and his family may be eligible for certain educational or healthcare benefits provided by the VA.

A Vietnam War veteran, Laura, has a service-connected disability and receives VA benefits. At the age of 68, her elderly mother, Susan, becomes financially dependent upon her for daily living needs. To add Susan as a dependent and possibly increase her VA benefits, Laura needs to apply for a dependency determination, providing relevant documents such as a birth certificate or adoption records. If approved, Laura’s VA benefits may increase to assist in providing care for Susan.

Another example is Emily, a widow of a veteran who served in the Korean War and passed away due to a service-connected disability. To apply for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) as a surviving spouse, Emily needs to provide the VA with a marriage certificate, death certificate, and any other relevant documentation to prove her relationship with the veteran along with demonstrating the cause of death being service-related. If the dependency determination is approved, Emily may receive a monthly benefit from VA to help support her financially.

Dependency Determination FAQ

What is Dependency Determination?

Dependency Determination is a process that evaluates if a veteran’s family members, such as their spouse or children, are eligible to receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This process is essential to ensure that eligible dependents receive the appropriate benefits and support from the VA.

Who qualifies as a dependent for VA benefits?

A dependent for VA benefits can include a veteran’s spouse, children under the age of 18, children between the ages of 18 and 23 who are attending an eligible educational institution, and children with permanent disabilities occurring before age 18. In some cases, a veteran’s parents may also qualify as dependents if they meet certain income and net worth requirements.

How do I apply for Dependency Determination?

To apply for Dependency Determination, you can submit the necessary forms online through VA’s eBenefits portal or by mail. For adding a spouse or child, you will need to submit VA Form 21-686c (Declaration of Status of Dependents). If you are applying for the addition of a parent as a dependent, you will need to submit VA Form 21P-509 (Statement of Dependency of Parent).

What documents do I need to provide for Dependency Determination?

You will need to provide supporting documents depending on the type of dependent you are adding. For a spouse, you will need to provide a marriage certificate. For children, you will need to provide birth certificates or adoption records. For disabled children over the age of 18, you will need to provide medical evidence of their permanent disability.

How long does the Dependency Determination process take?

The processing time for Dependency Determination can vary depending on the complexity of your case and the VA’s current workload. Generally, it can take several weeks or even months for the VA to make a determination on your application. You can check the status of your application through the eBenefits portal.

What benefits do dependents receive as a result of Dependency Determination?

Once a dependent is determined to be eligible for VA benefits, they may receive benefits such as dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), survivors’ pension, educational assistance, vocational rehabilitation, and healthcare services through CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs). The specific benefits your dependent receives will depend on their eligibility and your specific situation as a veteran.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Survivors Pension
  • Additional Allowances for Dependents
  • Marriage and Divorce Documentation
  • Proof of Child Relationship

Sources for More Information

Benefits.com Advisors

With expertise spanning local, state, and federal benefit programs, our team is dedicated to guiding individuals towards the perfect program tailored to their unique circumstances.

Rise to the top with Peak Benefits!

Join our Peak Benefits Newsletter for the latest news, resources, and offers on all things government benefits.

Related Articles