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VA Form 21-686C: Everything You Need to Know

If you support adult children between 18 and 23 attending school, unmarried children below 18, a spouse, or a dependent parent, you can claim VA compensation by filling out VA form-21-686c.

Veterans who have a disability rating of 30% or more who recently had a child, got married, got divorced, or had significant income changes should fill out VA form 21-686c.

This form is also known as the Declaration of Status of Dependents or the VA form to add Dependents

Understanding VA Form 21-686C: A Comprehensive Overview

Again, VA Form 21-686c is also known as the Declaration of Status of Dependents. It allows you to provide information about your dependents to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This form is vital when applying for VA benefits because it determines the dependency benefits you qualify to receive. 

Also, it’s crucial to remove or add dependents if your family situation changes after you file for VA compensation. By completing this form, veterans can receive additional monthly benefits for qualifying dependents. To be eligible for these benefits, you must have a combined disability rating of 30% or higher. 

The Declaration of Status of Dependents form is a 12-page form that requests extensive information concerning a veteran’s dependents. 

Who Should Fill Out VA Form 21-686C?

Veterans with a disability rating of 30% or more can fill out VA form 21-686c if they’re:

  • Claiming additional VA benefits for an unmarried child under 18 or children aged between 18 and 23 who are attending school. 
  • Claiming additional VA compensation for a spouse
  • Claiming additional benefits for more than four children
  • Claiming additional benefits for dependent parents living with them and for whom they offer financial support. The dependent parent’s income must be below the federal poverty guidelines, which the VA determines once you complete VA form 21p-509.
  • Reporting that a stepchild is no longer a member of their household
  • Reporting a divorce
  • Reporting the death of a child, spouse, or dependent parent
  • Reporting that a schoolchild aged over 18 stopped attending school.
  • Reporting the marriage of a child

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Fill Out VA Form 21-686C

Thankfully, filling out VA form 21-686c is pretty straightforward; however, what you need to include will depend on the dependents you want to add to your VA compensation.

To start filling out this form, fill in your first and last name, date of birth, Social Security number, VA file number, and mailing address in Section I.

Removing or Adding a Spouse

If you want to remove or add a spouse from your VA compensation package, provide the following details in Section II.

  • Their name
  • Their Social Security number
  • Their date of birth
  • The place and date of your marriage
  • Whether your spouse is a Veteran, too
  • Whether you were married through a common-law marriage
  • Whether you were married by a justice of the peace or a religious officiant

Also, accurately state if you and your partner were previously married to other people. If that is the case, include information like:

  • The name of your former spouse
  • The place and date of the former marriage
  • The place and date of the marriage’s termination
  • The reason for the termination of the previous marriage (e.g., annulment, divorce, or death)

Make sure you attach a copy of your marriage certificate with your current partner and death certificate or divorce decree related to a former marriage, if applicable.

Section IV

If you want to report a divorce and remove your previous spouse from your VA benefits, you’ll have to complete this section. Complete this section as soon as possible following your divorce so you don’t receive an overpayment of VA compensation, which you’ll need to return.

Section VI

If your spouse passed away, complete this section. You’ll need to provide the name of your spouse who passed recently and the place and date of their demise. Report the demise of your spouse as soon as possible to avoid receiving VA compensation overpayments.

Removing or Adding a Child

Most veterans want to add their kids to their VA compensation packages. To do that, complete Section III of the VA Form 21-686c. This section allows you to add up to four dependents; thus, you might have to use the addendum section to add more than four children to your VA benefits.

For each child, include their:

  • Name 
  • Place and date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Child status, including whether they’re adopted, biological, or stepchild.
  • Address and name of the person the child lives with; if they don’t live with you.

Further, the VA requires you to provide a copy of each child’s adoption paperwork or birth certificate and a copy of the child’s Social Security card. If you want to add a stepchild, be sure to include a copy of your marriage certificate to the child’s biological parent. 

Section IV

Complete this section to report the demise of a dependent child. You’ll have to include their child’s name, place, and date of death.

Section VII

To report the marriage of a child, complete Section VII. Don’t forget that married children are ineligible for VA compensation, no matter how old they are. Add the child’s name and the place and date of marriage.

Adding a Dependent Parent

To add a dependent parent to your VA compensation, you’ll need to complete VA Form 21p-509. Also, you need to be a Veteran with a disability rating of 30% or more or receive VA education compensation.

A Veteran can add an adopted, biological, stepparent, or foster parent. Once you download VA Form 21p-509, complete crucial sections. You’ll also need to provide your parents’ Social Security numbers, date of birth, and full name. 

Some sections require you to provide information about your parent’s financial situation, like the property they own. Also, you’ll need your parent’s encumbrance and present value and the name of your parent’s current spouse if they’re still married.

Because that’s a lot of information, meet with your parents before you fill out this form or have them complete VA Form 21p-509 with you. That’s the best way to ensure the details you provide to the VA are accurate.

When you complete your VA Form 21-686c, you can submit it to the VA in multiple ways.

First, you can mail it using this address:

  • Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • Evidence Intake Center
  • P.O BOX 4444
  • Janesville, WI 53547

Second, you can submit your VA Form 21-686c online by visiting the VA website. Also, you can sign in to VA.gov to view or change your dependent status. You can also submit your completed form in person by taking it to the nearest VA Regional Office. Or you can have a Veteran Service Organization (VSO) or attorney submit a completed form on your behalf. 

Adding a dependent to your VA disability benefits helps make managing the economic aspects of caring for a dependent easier. If you feel you qualify for dependents benefits, visit a qualified Veterans disability lawyer or a VSO. Either one can help you through the pros of your claim and guide you through what’s often a laborious process. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Completing VA Form 21-686C

Potential mistakes individuals make when filling out this form include:

  • Not filing early: Once you’re assigned a disability rating of 30% or more, you’re eligible to receive VA dependency benefits. Filling out VA Form 21-686c as early as possible ensures that you’ll receive dependency benefits as soon as possible because the VA already has everything on file.
  • Not including as many details as possible: When filling out this form, it’s crucial to include as much information as possible. That’s because the VA may deny you veteran dependency benefits if you omit essential details or sections of the form that aren’t filled out. To hasten the process, you must fill out all sections of the form as exhaustively as possible.
  • Only gathering some documents you might need before submitting your form: Before submitting the form, you should gather all documents that you may have to submit to the VA. That includes any divorce degrees, marriage certificates, birth certificates, death certificates, or school documents. It’s vital to gather all those documents before filing so that you can submit them with the form. If you don’t have access to these documents, you can submit your form without them; however, that may cause delays in receiving VA dependency benefits. If for some reason you can’t access any of these documents, for instance, if the only surviving copy of a marriage certificate burned in a house fire, you can write a statement to the VA explaining why you can’t get access to a copy of a document or the original document.

Understanding the Impact of VA Form 21-686C on Benefits

You can use VA Form 21-686c to request additional VA benefits for a dependent or to request the removal of a dependent from your VA benefits.

Suppose you’re a separated or retired military member who has had a change in family size, marital status, or similar situations. In that case, you must update VA records to add information about those changes.

Not doing so can affect your and your dependents’/spouse’s ability to claim some VA education benefits like Chapter 35 DEA benefits or the Fry Scholarship.

Thus, if you’re a veteran with a spouse or dependents, you should complete VA Form 21-686c, the form used to add or remove dependents from your veteran compensation package. 

If you have a child, get married, divorced, or start financially supporting a parent, you should complete and submit VA Form 21-686c to add the new child, spouse, and parent. This may increase your VA benefits package, allowing you to support all your dependents financially.

On the other hand, if you experience a death in your family and that person was listed as a dependent, you need to submit an updated copy of VA Form 21-686c with that information. 

Not reporting changes that result in the VA overpaying you result in the VA contacting you to pay back the overpayment. You’ll be required to pay all the benefits arriving after the death of a dependent or spouse, and this is also true if a dependent child reaches age 24 or gets married and is still receiving VA compensation. 

FAQs: Your Top VA Form 21-686C Questions Answered

To guide you on how to fill out VA Form 21-686c, we’ve answered a few of the most asked questions about the Declaration of Status of Dependents form.

Why Do I Need VA Form 21-686c?

After retiring or separating from the military, you can file a claim with the VA for service-related medical conditions and other veteran benefits. Also, you can add your spouse, dependents, or financially dependent parents for consideration for some VA benefits.

Furthermore, the VA offers added considerations to veterans with a disability rating of 30% or more or those with dependents.

If you get divorced, married, start supporting a financially dependent parent, or have a child, you can fill out this form to claim VA dependency benefits.

On the other hand, if the person you listed as a dependent dies, you must submit an updated form with that information to avoid receiving overpayment, which you have to return later.

When Can I Not Use VA Form 21-686c?

Don’t complete VA Form 21-686c to add dependents older than 24. You’ll need to complete this form to remove children who have aged out (older than 24) or who have gotten married. Further, don’t fill out this form to add a dependent; the VA doesn’t consider a spouse or a qualifying dependent.

Who does the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs deem a qualifying dependent?

  • Spouse
  • A disabled adult child who became disabled before the age of 18
  • Unmarried children under the age of 18 or who are between 18 and 23 years and go to school full-time
  • Dependent parents who you live with and rely on you financially.

VA guidelines don’t focus on the “status” of a child or parent. Foster children, stepparents, and adopted kids are all considered.

When Should I Add Dependents to My VA Compensation?

You can add dependents to your VA compensation when you file your initial claim for service-related benefits. The VA will automatically consider additional benefits for your dependents if you have a disability rating of 30% or higher.

Also, you can remove or add dependents later if your family circumstances change after you’ve filed for VA benefits. The VA will make dependency benefits retroactive to the date you were initially approved for VA compensation if you submit your VA Form 21-686c within the next year.

What Supporting Documentation Do I Have to Submit with VA Form 21-686c?

When submitting your VA Form 21-686c, you must attach the following documents to prove your relationships with your dependents.

You’ll need to submit social security cards and birth certificates for children who are still enrolled in school. Further, you’ll have to submit a Request for Approval of School Attendance for children still enrolled in school. This form gathers information like the student’s class schedule, expected graduation date, transcripts, and other school-related information.

For dependent parents, you’ll have to complete VA Form 21p-509. You can also use this form if you’re a parent of a veteran who passed away on active duty or due to service-related illness.

The VA often requests a marriage certificate for spouses to determine how long a veteran has been married. If you were married previously, you’ll need to submit a divorce decree from your previous marriage. And if you’re recently widowed, you’ll have to submit a death certificate for your deceased spouse.

Conclusion: VA Form 21-686c

VA Form 21-686c is a vital form that can help you secure additional VA compensation for qualified dependents aside from the benefits associated with your service-related disability. However, to qualify for those benefits, you must have a combined disability rating of 30% or more. This form is also vital for adding or removing dependents if your family circumstances change when you file for VA compensation.

With this form, you can provide your dependents with a broad range of VA benefits, from health care to education assistance. Thus, completing VA Form 21-686c is a great idea. 

If you need help filling out VA Form 21-686c, the qualified staff at Benefits.com can help you gather as many documents as you need and fill out your form correctly to ensure you receive the dependency benefits you and your dependents deserve. 

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