M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart III, Chapter 5, Section G



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42. Establishing a Stepchild as a Veteran’s Child for VA Purposes, Continued

i. Handling a Veteran’s Response to the Notice of Proposed Adverse Action

Follow the instructions in the table below after a Veteran


  • provides the information/statement(s) described in Step 3 of the procedure outlined in M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.G.42.h, or

  • responds to the notice of proposed adverse action referenced in Step 8 of the same procedure.







If ...

Then ...

the stepchild


  • still lives with the Veteran, or

  • lives apart from the Veteran for one of the reasons described in M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.G.42.b

  • leave the child on the Veteran’s award

  • notify the Veteran of

  • the reason why he/she remains entitled to additional benefits for the stepchild, and

  • his/her responsibility to notify VA of any changes in the stepchild’s status, and

  • clear the pending EP.

  • leave the child on the Veteran’s award

  • notify the Veteran of

  • the reason why he/she remains entitled to additional benefits for the stepchild, and

  • his/her responsibility to notify VA of any change in the percentage of the child’s support that he/she provides, and

  • clear the pending EP.

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42. Establishing a Stepchild as a Veteran’s Child for VA Purposes, Continued



i. Handling a Veteran’s Response to the Notice of Proposed Adverse Action (continued)




If ...

Then ...

  • the stepchild lives apart from the Veteran, and

  • the Veteran provides less than one-half of the stepchild’s support

  • remove the stepchild from the Veteran’s award under the pending EP effective the day after the last date the stepchild was a member of the Veteran’s household, and

  • notify the Veteran of the reason(s) for the award adjustment.


Important: Unique circumstances may exist that justify the continued payment of additional benefits for a stepchild, even though

  • the stepchild lives apart from the Veteran, and

  • the Veteran is not paying at least half of the stepchild’s support.

If such circumstances exist, a Senior Veterans Service Representative (SVSR) must prepare an administrative decision for approval by a Coach to leave the stepchild on the Veteran’s award. If the Coach approves the decision,



  • notify the Veteran of

  • the reason why he/she remains entitled to additional benefits for the stepchild, and

  • his/her responsibility to notify VA if the level of support he/she provides for the stepchild changes, and

  • clear the pending EP.


Reference: For information about preparing administrative decisions, see M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart v, 1.A.

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42. Establishing a Stepchild as a Veteran’s Child for VA Purposes, Continued



i. Handling a Veteran’s Response to the Notice of Proposed Adverse Action (continued)




If ...

Then ...

  • the stepchild lives apart from the Veteran, and

  • the Veteran does not claim he/she has constructive custody of the child, as defined in M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.G.42.b

  • remove the stepchild from the Veteran’s award under the pending EP effective the day after the last date the stepchild was a member of the Veteran’s household, and

  • notify the Veteran of the reason for the award adjustment.


Notes:

  • If the Veteran did not provide the date the stepchild stopped being a member of his/her household, remove the stepchild from the Veteran’s award effective the day after the stepchild’s biological/adoptive parent

  • died, or

  • separated from or divorced the Veteran (whichever applies).

  • If the Veteran provided neither the date the stepchild stopped being a member of his/her household nor the date of death, divorce or separation, remove the stepchild from the Veteran’s award effective the day after the date the Veteran last verified the stepchild was a member of his/her household.







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42. Establishing a Stepchild as a Veteran’s Child for VA Purposes, Continued


i. Handling a Veteran’s Response to the Notice of Proposed Adverse Action (continued)

Important: Follow the instructions in M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart v, 2.B when providing the Veteran with notice of a decision and/or award adjustment.
Note: Absent evidence to the contrary, accept as credible any statement regarding the constructive custody of a stepchild that VA receives from the

  • Veteran,

  • stepchild’s adoptive or biological parent or custodian, and/or

  • the stepchild, if he/she has reached the age of majority.


References: For more information about the effective date for removing a stepchild from a Veteran’s award, see 38 CFR 3.503(a)(6).



j. Action to Take If a Veteran Does Not Respond to the Notice of Adverse Action

If a Veteran does not respond within 65 days to the notice of proposed adverse action referenced in M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.G.42.h, remove the stepchild from the Veteran’s award effective the day after the stepchild’s biological/adoptive parent


  • died, or

  • separated from or divorced the Veteran (whichever applies).

If the Veteran never provided the date of death, divorce, or separation, remove the stepchild effective the day after the date the Veteran last verified the stepchild was a member of his/her household.





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