10.5. Ancillary Benefit-Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA)
Note: An ancillary benefit is an additional benefit that is related to, or derived from entitlement to certain service-connected benefits.
Dependents' educational assistance (DEA) under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 35 provides payment of a monthly education or training allowance to the spouse and children of a Veteran who
- has a total service-connected disability that is permanent in nature, or
of a service-connected disability, or
- while a service-connected disability was evaluated as total and permanent in nature.
Dependent and Spouse Educational Assistance provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of certain veterans.
An eligible dependene or spouse of a veteran can receive up to 45 months of education benefits. These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. If you are a spouse, you can take a correspondence course. Under certain circumstances, remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved.
Who Is Eligible?
You must be the son, daughter, or spouse of a veteran. In order to be eligible the veteran must be:
- A veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of active service in the Armed Forces.
- A veteran who died from any cause while such service-connected disability was in existence.
- A servicemember missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
- A servicemember forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.
- A servicemember who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability. This change is effective December 23, 2006.
When Are You Eligible?
Child-Son or Daughter:
A son or daughter of a veteran who wishtes to receive benefits for attending shcool or job training must be between 18 and 26 years old. Under certain circumstances it is possible to start at an earlier age and to continue after age 26. Marriage does not exclude you from this benefit.
If you are in the Armed Forces, you may not receive this benefit while on active duty. You can however obtain the education benefits after discharge from military service as long as your discharge is not under dishonorable conditions. The Veterans Administration can extend your period of eligibility by the number of months and days equal to the time spent on active duty. This extension cannot generally go beyond your 31st birthday, there are some exceptions.
38 U.S.C. Chapter 35 provides educational assistance to "eligible persons," including "children whose education would otherwise be impeded or interrupted by reason of disability or death of a parent from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the Armed Forces." 38 U.S.C. § 3500. For purposes of DEA benefits under chapter 35, "eligible person" means a child of a person who, as a result of qualifying service, died of a service-connected disability or has a total disability permanent in nature resulting from a service-connected disability, or who dies while a disability so evaluated was in existence. 38 U.S.C. § 3501(A)(1)(a).
In general, an eligible child's period of eligibility for educational assistance under chapter 35 ends on his or her 26th birthday. 38 U.S.C. § 3512(a); 38 C.F.R. § 21.3041(a), (b), although there are some exceptions. 38 C.F.R. § 21.3041(g). The general rule is that the commencing date of an original award of educational assistance is the latest of: (a) the date the educational institution certifies the course; (b) one year before the date of receipt of the claim; or (c) the effective date of the approval of the course, or one year before VA receives approval notice, whichever is later. 38 U.S.C. § 3672; 38 C.F.R. § 21.4131(a). When determining the effective date of an award under Chapter 35 the Secretary may consider the individual's application as having been filed on the eligibility date of the individual if that eligibility date is more than one year before the date of the initial rating decision. 38 U.S.C. § 5113(b).
Pursuant to 38 U.S.C. section 5113(b)(2) the criteria for an earlier effective date under this statute requires that the claimant is an eligible person who:
(A) submits to the Secretary an original application for educational assistance under Chapter 35 of this title . . . within one year of the date that the Secretary makes the rating decision;
(B) claims such educational assistance for pursuit of an approved program of education during a period preceding the one-year period ending on the date on which the application was received by the Secretary; and
(C) would have been entitled to such educational assistance for such course pursuit if the individual had submitted such application on the individual's eligibility date.
If you are a spouse, benefits end 10 years from the date VA finds you eligible or from the date of death of the veteran. If the VA rated the veteran permanently and totally disabled with an effective date of 3 years from discharge a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of the rating. This change is effective October 10, 2008 and no benefits may be paid for any training taken prior to that date. For surviving spouses (spouses of servicemembers who died on active duty) benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
What You Need To Do
Make sure that the program you want to enroll in is approved for VA training.
Obtain and complete the application, VA Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance. Send it to the VA regional office with jurisdiction over the State where you will train. If you are a son or daughter, under legal age, a parent or guardian must sign the application.
If you have already started training, take your application to your school or employer. Ask them to complete VA Form 22-1999, Enrollment Certification, and send both forms to VA.
Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program booklet (PDF).