Receiving VA Benefits For Your Dependents
Veterans with a 30% rating or higher can receive benefits for their dependents. However, having the proper dependents is not enough to receive benefits for these dependents.
Veterans must also file the correct paperwork to receive these benefits. That paperwork is a 21-686c Declaration of Status of Dependents form.
On this form, you can declare the status of any dependents which you claim. Those dependents can include your spouse and your children.
You must file the form 21-686c before you can receive benefits for your dependents from VA. The best time to go ahead and file the form is when you make your application for VA benefits. This way, you can make sure that you do not get shorted on the amount of VA benefits you receive.
If you go ahead and complete the form when you apply for benefits, then hopefully VA will factor in your dependents if you qualify for a 30% or higher rating. Even if you file the 21-686c form with your initial application, you should still check to make sure VA includes your dependents when you start receiving benefits.
What if I did not file the 21-686c form when I initially applied for disability compensation?
Failing to file your 21-686c form when you apply for disability compensation does not prevent you from receiving benefits for your dependents. You can file the form later. But, you do not want to wait too long.
Suppose you receive an award from VA that grants you a 40% rating. Suppose that award also says you are being paid as a single veteran with no dependents.
If you have dependents, you need to go ahead and file a 21-686c form. If you get that form in within one year of the date of the letter notifying you of your benefits, then VA will pay you back to your effective date.
Doing this is crucial. Since many veterans have to wait years after applying to get an award from VA, they are often entitled to years of back benefits. Simply completing and submitting the 21-686c form should allow them to get benefits for their dependents for all that time.
What happens if I wait more than a year from receiving notification of my rating before I submit the 21-686c form?
You can still submit the form. But, you will cost yourself money you should have received. If you wait beyond the one year from the letter notifying you of your rating, then VA will only pay you benefits for your dependents from the date they receive the 21-686C form.
Let’s take an example of a veteran with a spouse and two children who has waited 4 years since initial application to receive a 40% rating. That veteran will receive roughly $144 more per month if VA pays benefits for the dependents.
If that veteran waits more than a year after receiving notification of the rating before filing the 21-686c form, the veteran will miss out on roughly $8600 ($144 per month for 5 years). Considering that the form would take less than an hour to complete, veterans should do it as soon as possible.
I recommend doing it as fast as you can so VA can process it. This also lets you make sure you get it dealt with within that one year period without any problems. This way, you do not take the chance that you miss out on VA benefits you should receive.
What should I do if the status of my dependents changes?
The status of dependents can change. You may have another child. You may get married or divorced.
If you have any changes in the status of your dependents , you will want to notify VA of that as quickly as possible. Failing to notify VA could create an overpayment issue.
What if I have other veterans disability compensation questions?
Our Veterans Blog has a number of articles that provide information about veterans disability compensation. Of course, the specific facts of your particular situation often matter in getting the right information.
The best way to get your specific questions answered is through a free veterans disability consultation. This article I wrote provides an explanation of how a free consultation works and what you can expect to learn.
Setting up a free consultation is easy. You can either call us at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit the consultation request form on this page.
Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims. He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.
You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.