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Add Dependents to Your VA Disability Benefits

Find out how to add a dependent spouse, child, and/or parent to your VA disability benefits for additional compensation.

Am I eligible for additional VA disability compensation for my dependent(s)?

You may be eligible for additional disability compensation for a spouse, child, and/or parent if you meet both of the requirements listed below.

Both of these must be true. You:

  • Are eligible for VA disability compensation, and
  • Have a combined disability rating of at least 30%

Adding a dependent may make you eligible to receive a higher compensation payment (also called a benefit rate).

Who does VA consider a dependent?

A dependent is:

  • A spouse (Note: we recognize same-sex and common-law marriages)
  • A parent, if you’re directly caring for them and their income and net worth are below a certain amount
  • An unmarried child (including an adopted child or stepchild) who meets one of the eligibility requirements listed below

To be considered a dependent, one of these must be true of an unmarried child. They:

  • Are under 18 years old, or
  • Are between the ages of 18 and 23 years old and enrolled in school full time, or
  • Became permanently disabled before they turned 18

When should I add a dependent to my benefits?

This depends on where you are in the process of filing for disability compensation.

If you haven’t yet filed a claim for disability compensation

You can file a claim for additional compensation for a dependent at the same time as you file your original claim for disability compensation.

If you receive a combined disability rating of at least 30%, we’ll automatically consider your eligibility for additional compensation for your dependent.

Find out how to file a claim for disability compensation.

If you have one or more dependents, but you didn’t claim them when you originally filed for disability compensation

If you have a combined disability rating of at least 30%, you can file a claim for additional disability compensation now.

If something changes in your family status after you received a combined disability rating of at least 30%

You can file a claim for additional disability compensation whenever you add a dependent.

You can add a dependent if:

  • You get married
  • You have or adopt a child
  • Your child is between 18 and 23 years old and enrolled in school full time
  • We determine that your child, who is at least 18 years old, became permanently disabled before turning 18
  • You become the caregiver for a parent whose income and net worth is below a certain amount

How do I add a dependent to my benefits?

To file a claim for additional disability compensation for a child or spouse

You can file a claim for additional compensation for a child or spouse online right now through our eBenefits website.

Note: You may need to provide more information or forms along with your claim.

Go to eBenefits to Add a Dependent Child or Spouse

If you’re claiming your child who became permanently disabled before they turned 18, you’ll need to turn in all private medical records relating to the child’s disabilities with your application.

If your dependent is a child who’s between 18 and 23 years old and attending school full time, you’ll also need to submit a Request for Approval of School Attendance (VA Form 21-674) with your application.
Download VA Form 21-674.

To file a claim for additional disability compensation for a dependent parent

You’ll need to fill out and submit a Statement of Dependency of Parent(s) (VA Form 21P-509) by mail or fax.
Download VA Form 21P-509.

Please send all correspondence related to compensation claims to this address:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Evidence Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444

Or fax it to:

1-844-531-7817 if you live in the U.S., or
1-248-524-4260 if you live outside of the U.S.

What if I need help with my claim?

You can work with an accredited Veterans Service Officer (VSO). We trust these professionals because they’re trained and certified in the VA claims and appeals process. A VSO can answer your questions or even file your claim for you.
Get help filing your claim.


More questions about adding a dependent to your VA disability compensation

  • Yes, but we encourage you to file online. The online process is simple, and you can upload your supporting documents along with your claim.

    When you file your claim online, we recognize the day you start the online claim process as the date VA received your claim. This means that if we decide you’re eligible for additional disability compensation, we’ll pay you back to this date.

    If you can’t, or don’t want to file online, you can file a claim for additional disability compensation by mail or fax using the forms below:

    • For a spouse or a child under 18 years of age, you’ll need to fill out a Declaration of Status of Dependents (VA Form 21-686c).
      Download VA Form 21-686c.

    • For a child who’s between 18 and 23 years old and attending school full time, you’ll need to fill out both VA Form 21-686c and a Request for Approval of School Attendance (VA Form 21-674).
      Download VA Form 21-686c.
      Download VA Form 21-674.

    • For a dependent parent, you’ll need to fill out a Statement of Dependency of Parent(s) (VA Form 21P-509).
      Download VA Form 21P-509.

    Mail your completed form(s) to:

    Department of Veterans Affairs
    Evidence Intake Center
    PO Box 4444
    Janesville, WI 53547-4444

    Or fax them to:

    1-844-531-7817 if you live in the U.S., or
    1-248-524-4260 if you live outside of the U.S.

  • You can file your claim again online for a faster decision. If we award you additional disability compensation, we’ll give you back pay from the original date we received your paper form.

  • We may pay you back to the date of your marriage or the birth or adoption of your child if you meet all of the requirements listed below.

    All of these must be true. You:

    • Had already received a combined disability rating of at least 30% at the time of the marriage, birth, or adoption, and
    • File your claim for additional disability compensation for the dependent within a year of the marriage, birth, or adoption, and
    • Respond within a year to our request for any more information or evidence needed to confirm your claim

    If it’s been more than 1 year since you got married or had or adopted a child, we may not pay you back to the date of the marriage, birth, or adoption. Instead, we may pay you back only to the date we received your claim for additional disability for the dependent or, in some cases, up to a year before before this date.

  • We’ll begin paying you within 2 weeks after we approve your claim.

  • You can check this through your eBenefits account.

    Sign in to your account.

    Then click the “Dependents” link under the “My Profile” section.

    If you see your dependent(s) listed there, you should be eligible for additional compensation for them. If they’re not listed, you should file a claim for the additional benefit.
    Go to eBenefits.


Questions about adding or removing certain kinds of dependents

  • If you and your spouse are both Veterans with a combined disability rating of at least 30%, you can both receive additional disability compensation for each other and for your children.

    You should know: It’ll take us longer to process your claim if your spouse is also a Veteran. But if you file your claim online, and we decide you’re eligible for additional disability compensation for your dependent(s), we’ll pay you back to the date you started the online claim process.

  • You can submit a request through eBenefits asking us to stop paying additional disability compensation for a spouse or child. We’ll need more time to process a request that involves a child than a request that involves a spouse, but the online process is still much faster than submitting a paper request.

    If you get divorced, you’ll want to notify us right away. You don’t need to send or upload supporting documents to eBenefits in this case.

    This will help to make sure we don’t continue paying you additional disability compensation for your former spouse and, if applicable, stepchildren after the divorce. If we continue paying you benefits that you’re not eligible for, we may withhold money from future payments until you’ve paid us back.
    Go to eBenefits.

  • You’ll need to update your child’s school information in eBenefits.

    Sign in to your account.

    Click “Add or Remove Dependents” (you’ll find it under the “Apply” section on the homepage).

    Then select “Update Dependents.”

    Go to eBenefits.

  • No. We’ll track your child’s age based on the date of birth you give us when you submit your claim. When your child turns 18, we’ll stop paying additional disability compensation for them unless you let us know they’re enrolled in school full time.