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Adding a Dependent to Your VA Disability Award


If you’re a Veteran currently receiving VA disability compensation, you may be eligible to add a dependent to your VA disability claim. your disability award, your monthly benefit will increase to better manage the costs of living for you and your dependents.

Qualified Veterans must already be eligible for VA disability compensation and have a combined disability rating of at least 30 percent.

Who qualifies as a dependent for VA disability?

The VA defines a dependent as a family member, such as a spouse, child or parent, who relies on financial support from the Veteran.

Biological children, adopted children and stepchildren can all qualify as dependents as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • Unmarried and under the age of 18;
  • Between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school full-time; or
  • Disabled prior to age 18

You may also qualify as a dependent if you’re the parent of a Veteran. In order to qualify, you must provide proof of income and net worth to demonstrate that additional support from the Veteran is required to meet basic needs.

How much do dependents add to VA disability?

When you add a dependent to your VA disability claim, you can expect your monthly compensation to increase in order to cover the expenses of financially supporting that dependent. The amount of that increase, however, is determined by your disability rating level as well as the type of dependent you’re adding to your claim.

You can calculate your compensation increase using this pay chart from the VA.

How do I add a dependent to my VA disability?

There are a few different forms you can file to add a dependent to your VA disability, so make sure you’re completing the correct form for your dependent prior to submitting the claim.

If you’re adding a spouse to your VA disability, you’ll need to file a Declaration of Status of Dependents. This form is also used to add a child/children under the age of 18 to your claim.

To add a child who is attending school full-time between the ages of 18 and 23, you need to file a Request for Approval of School Attendance.

For eligible dependent parents, a Statement of Dependency of Parents must be submitted to the VA.

When should I add a dependent to VA disability?

The best time to add dependents to your disability award is when you first file for compensation with the VA. However, if you didn’t initially add dependents to your disability claim, it’s advised that you do so as soon as you receive your 30% or higher VA disability rating. In some cases, the VA will only pay back benefits to the date you started your new dependency claim.

Other instances where you should file a new dependency claim include major life events like marriage, the birth or adoption of a child, a child’s enrollment in full-time higher education, the disability of a child under the age of 18, etc.

How long does it take to add dependents to VA disability?

AAFMAA recommends that Veterans with a VA disability rating of 30% or above file their dependency claim through the Veterans Administration's web portal. Filing online gives Veterans a faster response — sometimes in as little as 48 hours — and allows VA payments to begin sooner.

Questions About Your VA Disability Claim?

If you need further clarification about adding a dependent to your VA disability, contact an AAFMAA Member Benefits representative by calling 888-833-4833, select option 2, then option 2 again; or email [email protected]. We're happy to answer any questions you may have to make filing your VA disability claim as simple as possible.

This article was originally published December 4, 2020.