On March 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address during which he created VA’s motto – “…to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan…” President Lincoln clearly understood sacrifices made by family members of disabled Veterans and our moral obligation to provide support for these unsung heroes. There are many different types of dependent benefits including Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Survivors pension, Aid and Attendance and in some cases health care and education benefits. This post focuses on information regarding grantedChapter 35 education benefits and overviews the actual benefit, related time limits and explains how to apply.
Chapter 35 benefits vary depending on the education program intensity; full time students currently receive $1,018 per month and rates decrease in intervals to $254.50 per month for ¼ time students. There are different rates for Apprentice or On-the-job training, Farm Cooperative and Special Restorative training programs. Eligible dependents may receive benefits for 45 months and an aggregate $1,018 benefits paid equates to one month. However, after October 1, 2013 some dependents may receive benefits for 81 months when utilizing Chapter 35 benefits conjointly with other education benefits. Institutions must be VA approved, and recipients are encouraged to decide carefully where to attend.
There are time limits to utilize these benefits, although circumstances beyond reasonable control may extend the limits. Spouses are eligible for ten years from one of the following dates:
- Effective date of the Veteran’s permanent and total disability evaluation
- Date VA notifies the Veteran of the permanent and total disability evaluation
- Beginning date you choose, between the date you become eligible and the date VA notifies the Veteran of the permanent and total disability evaluation
Surviving spouses may be eligible for either ten or twenty years, depending on when the Veteran died. Surviving spouses are eligible for ten years if the Veteran died as the result of a service connected disability. In this case, surviving spouses may choose when the ten-year period begins although this date must be between the date of death and date the death is determined due to a service-connected condition. Surviving spouses are eligible for twenty years from the date of death, if the Veteran died on active duty. On October 10, 2008, Federal law increased surviving spouse eligibility to twenty years provided the Veteran’s effective date of permanent and total disability falls within three years of discharge from service. Children, including adopted and step, are eligible for benefits between ages 18 and 26, although exceptions to this rule exist. Important, Veterans may not receive increased compensation for dependency while eligible children receive education benefits.
Eligible dependents may call 1-888-442-4551 to receive free counseling on specifics. In order to apply, submit VA Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors and Dependents’ Educational Assistance by mail or simply go to the GI Bill website. In my next post, I’ll discuss health care benefits for dependents.