M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, Chapter 5, Section F
Section F. Establishing a Child’s Age and Relationship and Adjusting Awards for Dependents
In this Section
This section contains the following topics:
1 (old 30)
General Requirements to Be Considered a Child
2 (old 31)
Eligibility Requirements for a Child
3 (old 32)
Establishing Age and Relationship
4 (old 33)
Documentary Evidence of a Child’s Age
5 (old 34)
General Information on Award Adjustments for Dependents
6 (old 35)
Additional Compensation for Dependents
7 (old 36)
Adjustments Due to Loss of a Dependent
1. General Requirements to Be Considered a Child
This topic contains information on the general requirements that must be met in order for a person to be considered a child, including
definition of child
age requirement for a child, and
marital status requirement for a child.
October 11, 2010
a. Definition: Child
The term child is defined in 38 CFR 3.57. It includes the following:
biological child of a Veteran
child legally adopted by the Veteran before the child’s 18th birthday, or
is a member of the Veteran’s household and acquired the status of stepchild before age 18, or
became a stepchild of the Veteran between the ages of 18 and 23, is attending school, and is a member of the Veteran’s household or was a member at the time of the Veteran’s death.
b. Age Requirement for a Child
In order to be considered a child for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purposes, the individual must
be under age 18
have become permanently incapable of self-support before attaining age 18, or
be between the ages of 18 and 23, pursuing a course of instruction at an approved educational institution, and
a legitimate child
a legally adopted child, or
a stepchild who is a member of the Veteran’s household or was a member at the time of the Veteran’s death.
Reference: For more information on a child who is permanently incapable of self-support, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 7.1.
c. Marital Status Requirement for a Child
For compensation and pension purposes, an individual must be unmarried in order to be considered a child.
Example: If the Veteran’s 16-year-old child is married, the Veteran cannot receive additional benefits for the child.
Reference: For more information on the marital status requirement for a child, see 38 CFR 3.57(a)(1).
circumstances under which VA may pay additional benefits for a child
additional benefits for a child not living with the claimant, and
effect of a child’s entry into active duty.
September 23, 2014
a. Circumstances Under Which VA May Pay Additional Benefits for a Child
VA may pay additional benefits for a child if the
Veteran is entitled to disability pension
Veteran has a single service-connected disability or multiple service-connected disabilities that is/are rated (individually or combined) at least 30 percent disabling, or
child is in the custody of the surviving spouse of a deceased Veteran.
Note: In some instances, VA pays death benefits directly to the child of a deceased Veteran.
b. Additional Benefits for a Child Not Living With the Claimant
If a child is not living with a claimant, do not add the child to the claimant’s award without obtaining the information/evidence described in the table below.
Important: A child who is not in the custody of a surviving spouse may not be considered the surviving spouse’s dependent, even if the surviving spouse is providing financial support.
When the child’s address is …
Then the claimant must …
provide the name and address of the person with whom the child lives.
Document all attempts to contact the beneficiary, whether successful or not, on VA Form 27-0820, Report of General Information
If the required information cannot be obtained by telephone, request it through a development letter.
certify that the child’s whereabouts are unknown, and
furnish current evidence that child support payments are being made through a court, or state agency.
c. Effect of a Child’s Entry Into Active Duty
An individual’s entry into active duty in the armed forces has no effect on the individual’s status as a child for VA purposes if all other requirements are met.
3. Establishing Age and Relationship
This topic contains information on establishing a child’s age and his/her relationship to the Veteran, including
information a claimant must provide to VA
references for evidence requirements, and
administrative decision made by other agencies.
September 23, 2014
a. Information a Claimant Must Provide to VA
Before VA may pay benefits to or for a child, a claimant must provide VA with the child’s
Social Security number (if one has been assigned)
date of birth (month, day and year)
birthplace (city and State, or city and country for foreign births), and
relationship to the Veteran.
Additional information, as described in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.2.b, is required if the child does not reside with the claimant.
In most cases, VA accepts the oral or written statement of a claimant as proof of a child’s age and relationship to a Veteran, as long as it includes the information in the above paragraphs.
Exceptions: Documentary evidence of a child’s age and relationship to the Veteran is required if
the Veteran adopted the child, or
at least one of the conditions described in 38 CFR 3.204(a)(2) exist:
the claimant does not reside within a State
the claimant’s statement on its face raises a question of its validity
the claimant’s statement conflicts with other evidence of record, or
there is a reasonable indication of fraud or misrepresentation.
For the purpose of instructions in this block, “a State” includes the
District of Columbia
Puerto Rico, and
other territories and possessions of the United States.
VA does not require a claimant to provide the State in which a birth took place if the city of birth, such as Chicago, is well-known.
References: For more information about the documentary evidence required to establish age or relationship in the exceptions noted above, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.3.b.
b. References for Evidence Requirements
Use the references in the table below if documentary evidence of age and/or relationship is required for one or more of the reasons described in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.3.a.
For more information on documentary evidence to establish …
the age of a child
M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.4.
a child’s relationship to a female Veteran
M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.G.37.a.
a child’s relationship to a male Veteran
M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.G.37.b and c
an adopted child’s relationship to a Veteran
M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.G.38 through 41.
a stepchild’s relationship to a Veteran
M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.G.42.
c. Administrative Decisions Made by Other Agencies
Administrative decisions concerning a child’s age or relationship made by another government agency, such as the Social Security Administration, will be considered but are not binding on VA when determining entitlement to VA benefits.
4. Documentary Evidence of a Child’s Age
This topic contains information about the documentary evidence that may be required to establish a child’s age, including
primary, documentary evidence of age
secondary, documentary evidence of age
examples of acceptable secondary evidence, and
what affidavits or certified statements must contain.
August 21, 2014
a. Primary, Documentary Evidence of Age
A copy or abstract of the public record of birth is considered primary, documentary evidence of a child’s age.
A birth certificate created more than four years after the date of birth is acceptable as primary evidence only if it is consistent with other evidence of record.
A birth certificate issued by a hospital is acceptable only as secondary evidence under M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.4.b.
b. Secondary, Documentary Evidence of Age
If a copy of the birth certificate is not available, a claimant may submit secondary, documentary evidence of a child’s age. At a minimum, this evidence must show the child’s
date of birth
place of birth, and
c. Examples of Acceptable Secondary Evidence
The table below shows examples of
secondary evidence, in order of preference, and
the conditions under which VA will accept such evidence as proof of a child’s age.
Type of Secondary Evidence
Conditions for Acceptance
A copy of a church record of baptism.
If the baptism was performed more than four years after the birth, the baptismal certificate is acceptable only if it is
consistent with other evidence of record, and
corroborated by at least one reference to age or relationship made at a time when such reference was not essential to establishing entitlement to the benefit claimed.
An official report from the service department regarding a birth that occurred while the Veteran was in service.
Valid without conditions
An affidavit or certified statement of the physician or midwife in attendance at the birth.
Valid without conditions
A copy of the family Bible or other family record certified by a notary public or other officer with authority to administer oaths.
The notary or other officer must state
the year in which the Bible or other record was printed,
if, from the appearance of the writing, he/she believes the entries to be authentic.
Affidavits or certified statements of two or more disinterested persons.
See M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.4.d.
Other evidence that is adequate to establish the facts at issue, such as
original baptismal records
employment records, or
The authorization activity determines if the evidence is adequate to establish the facts at issue.
d. What Affidavits or Certified Statements Must Contain
The affidavits or certified statements of two or more disinterested persons regarding the age of a child must show the following:
name and address of the affiant
affiant’s date of birth
relationship, if any, of the affiant to the child
name of the child whose date of birth is at issue
date and place of birth
names of both parents, and
source of the affiant’s knowledge.
5. General Information on Award Adjustments for Dependents
This topic contains general information on compensation award adjustments for dependents, including
notifying a beneficiary of award adjustments
effect of separation or estrangement
time limits for receipt of substantiating evidence
payment of compensation while a reduction is under consideration
handling a change in dependency status
requirement to notify a child’s fiduciary, and
example of adjustment of a child’s award and notification.
September 23, 2014
a. Notifying a Beneficiary of Award Adjustments
Notify a beneficiary of any adjustment to his/her award because of a change in the status of a dependent.
Notify Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of the change if the beneficiary is a Veteran receiving training under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 31.
If a third party notifies VA of a beneficiary’s loss of a dependent, provide notice of proposed adverse action before discontinuing the additional benefits.
References: For information about
providing notice of proposed adverse action, see M21-1, Part I, 2.A and B, and
making award adjustments in the Veterans Service Network (VETSNET), see the !@#$%Awards User Guide.
b. Effect of Separation or Estrangement
Separation or estrangement does not affect disability compensation awards unless the spouse files a claim for an apportionment.
Important: Separation and estrangement are both factors in determining entitlement to pension.
c. Time Limits for Receipt of Substantiating Evidence
The provisions of 38 CFR 3.109 govern the time limits for receipt of any substantiating evidence VA requests to establish dependency.
d. Payment of Compensation While a Reduction Is Under Consideration
If the following actions are pending when a claim for additional compensation for dependents is pending or received, continue to adjudicate the dependency claim:
severance under 38 CFR 3.105(a), or
a proposed reduction under 38 CFR 3.105(e).
Important: The provisions of 38 CFR 3.501(g)(2) allow for payment of the additional compensation until the actual reduction occurs.
e. Handling a Change in Dependency Status
Use the table below to locate information on how to handle different occurrences that change dependency status.
If the change in dependency status is due to the …
Then look for more information in …
fact that a parent is no longer dependent
M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.J.59.
unscheduled discontinuance of school attendance of a child over age 18
M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.8.c.
f. Requirement to Notify a Child’s Fiduciary
Provide notice of a proposed adverse action to the fiduciary of any child whose rate of payment is adversely affected by a change in the status of a child or children on other awards.
g. Example: Adjustment of a Child’s Award and Notification
The Veteran’s first spouse reports that 16-year-old Lisa’s marriage has been annulled and asks that Lisa’s DIC payments as a child of the Veteran be reinstated.
Because of the annulment, payment to the child of the Veteran’s second marriage (Robert – Payee 12) must be reduced to the rate payable for one of two children.
Provide notice of proposed adverse action to Robert’s custodian.
Continue payments at the higher rate until the first of the month following the month in which the notice of proposed adverse action period elapses.
Retroactively reduce Robert’s award and create an overpayment at the end of the 65-day control period.
If Lisa’s marriage is terminated by death or divorce, benefits are no longer payable for her. Under Public Law (PL) 101-508, the marriage of a child is a permanent bar against receiving benefits. This provision does not apply if the marriage is annulled or declared void by a court of competent jurisdiction.
A notice of proposed adverse action is not required before making a retroactive payment of DIC to an additional child based on school attendance.
The child receives the “available difference” between the total payable for all children and the amount already paid for the existing children for the retroactive period.
The additional child is paid the full child’s rate from the first of the month following the month for which VA last paid the beneficiary.
Reference: For more information on adjudication of claims based on school attendance, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.
6. Additional Compensation for Dependents
This topic contains information on additional compensation for dependents, including
notification requirements when VA assigns a combined disability rating of at least 30 percent
end product (EP) control when developing for evidence/information required to add a dependent to a Veteran’s award
determining the proper effective date for adding a dependent
effect of Sharp v. Shinseki on the assignment of effective dates
handling responses to requests for evidence/information after the one-year time limit
example of the addition of a dependent following notification of potential entitlement
awarding entitlement from the date dependency arose, and
example of the addition of a dependent from the date dependency arose.
March 24, 2015
a. Notification Requirements When VA Assigns a Combined Disability Rating of at Least 30 Percent
Each time a Veteran is awarded a combined disability evaluation of at least 30 percent,
include in the decision notice the appropriate paragraphs that inform the Veteran of the dependent(s) for whom he/she is receiving additional benefits, and
notify the claimant of potential eligibility to dependency benefits in the decision notice (by providing the appropriate hyperlink to the forms needed to apply). If dependents are added to the current award or dependency development is part of the decision notice, do not provide notice of potential eligibility to dependency benefits.
Important: This policy applies even if the rating activity previously determined the Veteran was at least 30 percent disabled and is now
increasing the evaluation of an existing disability or establishing service connection for a new disability (regardless of whether or not the combined evaluation changes)
awarding entitlement to a total disability rating based on individual unemployability
establishing an earlier effective date for a combined disability evaluation of 30 percent or greater.
If additional benefits for a dependent cannot be awarded concurrent with the promulgation of a rating decision that awards a combined disability rating of at least 30 percent because information required to add the dependent is not of record, attempt to obtain the missing information by telephone.
If attempts to obtain the information by telephone are unsuccessful, or if documentary evidence is required to add a dependent, insert the appropriate development paragraphs into the letter that notifies the Veteran of the outcome of his/her rating decision.
Note: Document all attempts to contact the beneficiary, whether successful or not, on VA Form 27-0820, Report of General Information.
b. EP Control When Developing for Evidence/Information Required to Add a Dependent to a Veteran’s Award
Follow the instructions in the table below when
a Veteran identifies a dependent on his/her application for benefits
the evidence/information required to add the dependent to the Veteran’s award is not of record, and
a request for the missing evidence/information is included in the letter that notifies the Veteran of the outcome of a rating decision.
If the corresponding rating end product (EP) …
represents an original claim for benefits
Example: EP 110 or 010.
solicit the missing dependency information without the establishment of an EP 130 and without leaving the original EP running while waiting for the Veteran’s response.
Note: An EP 130 and a rating EP representing an original claim for benefits may never run concurrently.
Exception: Original claims may have an EP 130 concurrently pending when allthree of the following requirements are met:
the rating decision awards 30 percent or more and
the original EP is deferred for additional rating issues and
a dependency claim is subsequently received.
does not represent an original claim for benefits
Example: EP 020.
establish an EP 130 (unless one is already pending), and administratively deny the claim if the Veteran has a combined disability evaluation of less than 30%.
establish an EP 130 (unless one is already pending) and leave it running to control for a response from the Veteran, and
clear the 130 EP when all development/suspense periods have expired and final action is taken on the dependency claim.
c. Determining the Proper Effective Date for Adding a Dependent
If a Veteran responds to a request for evidence/information required to add a dependent to his/her award within one year of the request referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.6.a and b, award entitlement to additional compensation from the later of the following dates:
effective date of the evaluation awarded in the rating decision referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.6.a, or
date dependency arose.
Example: Dependency “arises” when
has or adopts a child, or
one or more of the Veteran’s parents become dependent on him/her.
Reference: The provisions of 38 CFR 3.401(b) govern the effective date of a Veteran’s entitlement to additional compensation for dependents.
d. Effect of Sharp v. Shinseki on the Assignment of an Effective Dates
The policy regarding the assignment of an effective date for adding a dependent to a Veteran’s award, as explained in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.6.c, stems from an October 15, 2009, decision by the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) in Sharp v. Shinseki. Prior to this decision, if a Veteran failed to provide evidence/information about his/her dependent(s) within one year of the date VA initially requested it (following the initial rating of 30 percent or greater), VA awarded entitlement to the additional compensation no earlier than
the date the Veteran eventually responded to the request, or
the date dependency arose (if the Veteran notified VA within one year of that date).
If, during routine review of a Veteran’s record, it is discovered that a rating decision completed on or after October 15, 2009, entitles the Veteran to additional compensation for (a) dependent(s) from an earlier effective date based on Sharp v. Shinseki, take action to correct the Veteran’s award.
Exception: The policy stemming from Sharp v. Shinseki does not apply to
pension awards, and
subsequent rating decisions that only
confirm and continue (a) current disability evaluation(s), or
deny service connection.
References: For more information about awarding entitlement to additional compensation for dependents from the effective date of a rating decision, see 38 CFR 3.401(b)(3).
e. Handling Responses to Requests for Evidence/ Information After the One-Year Time Limit
If a Veteran waits more than one year to respond to a request for evidence/information about his/her dependent(s), award entitlement to additional compensation for the dependent(s) no earlier than the date VA receives the response, unless
VA has notified the Veteran of a subsequent rating decision within the past year, as discussed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.6.a, or
the Veteran meets the requirements in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.F.6.g for adding a dependent effective the date dependency arose.
f. Example: Addition of a Dependent Following Notification of Potential Entitlement
Scenario 1: VA awards a combined disability evaluation of 30 percent to a Veteran effective April 21, 2001, and notifies him of potential entitlement to additional compensation for dependents on May 1, 2001. The Veteran forgets to inform VA that he is currently married.
The Veteran has no interaction with VA until June 15, 2006, when he discovers the May 1, 2001, letter while cleaning out his desk. He reads over the letter again and realizes he has been missing out on additional compensation for his spouse. He immediately calls the VA then submits a completed VA Form 21-686c showing he first married in August 13, 1998, and remains married to the same person.
Action: Award entitlement to additional compensation for a spouse effective June 15, 2006.
Scenario 2: On November 11, 2009, VA awards the same Veteran a total rating based on individual unemployability back to September 18, 2003.
Action: Retroactively award entitlement to additional compensation for a spouse effective September 18, 2003.
g. Awarding Entitlement From the Date Dependency Arose
Award entitlement to additional compensation for a dependent from the date dependency arose (date of marriage, date of birth of a child, etc.) if the Veteran
notifies VA within one year of the date dependency arose, and
responds to VA’s request for any additional evidence/information it requires to establish dependency within one year.
h. Example: Addition of a Dependent From the Date Dependency Arose
Scenario: VA awards a combined disability evaluation of 30 percent to a Veteran effective April 21, 2010, and notifies her of potential entitlement to additional compensation for dependents on May 1, 2010. On August 12, 2011, VA receives a completed VA Form 21-686c showing the Veteran gave birth to a baby girl on December 23, 2010.
Action: Award entitlement to additional compensation for a child effective December 23, 2010.
7. Adjustments Due to Loss of a Dependent
This topic contains general information on adjustments due to loss of a dependent, including
when notice of proposed adverse action is not required
action to take if the beneficiary fails to provide the date of the event that resulted in loss of a dependent
information that is unique to changes in the status of children in receipt of DIC
award adjustment upon the death or marriage of a child, and
application of 38 CFR 3.551.
August 21, 2014
a. When Notice of Proposed Adverse Action Is Not Required
Notice of proposed adverse action is not required if the beneficiary or his/her custodian provides VA with the evidence or information that triggers a reduction or discontinuation of benefits.
b. When the End-of-Month Rule Applies
The end-of-month rule applies to the total award amount paid to the Veteran or surviving spouse as the primary beneficiary.
Under the provisions of 38 U.S.C. 5112(b)(2), 38 CFR 3.500, and 38 CFR 3.660(a)(2) the effective date of reduction or discontinuance of an award of compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), or Improved Pension is the last day of the month in which the event occurs if the reduction or discontinuation is due to the loss of a
spouse because of
child because of
discontinuance of school attendance.
The last day of the month in which the event took place that resulted in the loss of a dependent represents the last date benefits are payable to or for the dependent. For award-processing purposes, the first day of the following month represents the first date of non-payment or reduced payment.
If a beneficiary loses a dependent for any reason other than those cited in this block, remove the dependent on the date of the event that caused dependency to cease.
Exception: The end-of-year rule applies if the loss of a dependent
occurred before October 1, 1982, or
affects an award of Section 306 or Old Law Pension.
Note: The term, “running award,” used in 38 CFR 3.660(a)(2) does not apply to reductions for loss of dependents, as described in 38 CFR 3.500.
c. When the End-of-Month Rule Does Not Apply
The end-of-month rule does not apply if the loss of a dependent not in the claimant’s custody increases entitlement.
d. Applying the End-of-Month Rule to a VETSNET Award
When applying the end-of-month rule to a VETSNET award, follow the steps in the table below.
Access the DEPENDENCY DECISION screen in VETSNET Awards.
Select the line in the grid that removes the dependent.
Select the EDIT button.
Enter the date of loss of the dependent in the EVENT DATE field.
Select Not an Award Dependent in the AWARD STATUS field.
Select the reason for removal (such as Divorce or Death) in the DECISION field.
Enter the first day of the month following the date of loss of the dependent in the AWARD EFFECTIVE DATE field.
Select the ACCEPT button to update the grid.
Select the OK button to save the decision and close the screen.
Reference: For more information on removing a dependent from a VETSNET award, see the Awards User Guide.
e. Action to Take If the Beneficiary Fails to Provide the Date of the Event That Resulted in Loss of a Dependent
If a beneficiary notifies VA of the loss of a dependent but does not provide the date of the event that resulted in the loss, attempt to obtain the date from the beneficiary by telephone.
If attempts to obtain the missing information by telephone are unsuccessful,
send a letter to the beneficiary stating that unless he/she provides the missing information within 60 days, VA will reduce/discontinue his/her benefits effective the first of the month following the month the beneficiary last verified his/her entitlement to additional benefits for the dependent.
Note: Document all attempts to contact the beneficiary, whether successful or not, on VA Form 27-0820, Report of General Information.
Reference: For more information on notices of proposed adverse action, see M21-1, Part I, 2.B.
f. Information That Is Unique to Changes in the Status of Children in Receipt of DIC
The following information is unique to changes in the status of children in receipt of DIC:
Discontinuation of an additional, separate award of DIC to a child attending school or a child incapable of self-support over age 18, because of the marriage or death of that child, does not affect the surviving spouse’s award.
The death or marriage of an out-of-custody child to whom VA is apportioning DIC under 38 CFR 3.461(a) does not require a corresponding adjustment to the surviving spouse’s award, and the surviving spouse is not entitled to additional benefits for the child through the end of the month in which the child died or married.
g. Award Adjustment Upon the Death or Marriage of a Child
If a Veteran or surviving spouse is receiving additional benefits for a child, and that child dies or marries, reduce or discontinue benefits effective the earlier of the following:
first day of the month following the date of death or marriage, or
date of a previously scheduled reduction or discontinuance based on the
child’s 18th birthday, or
23rd birthday, or
scheduled discontinuance of school attendance.
Note: If entitlement is based on school attendance, and the child stops attending school before marrying, reduce or discontinue benefits the first day of the month following the month during which the child last attended school, per 38 CFR 3.667(c).
h. Application of 38 CFR 3.551
Depending on the type of pension a Veteran is receiving, 38 CFR 3.551 may require a reduction of benefits if the Veteran loses an only dependent while VA is furnishing him/her with hospital, domiciliary, or nursing home care.
If the Veteran is receiving Section 306 or Old Law Pension, follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 6.B.10.e.
If the Veteran is receiving Improved Pension and is hospitalized at VA expense, do not reduce his/her benefits.
If the Veteran is receiving Improved Pension and domiciliary or nursing home care at VA expense,
notify the Veteran of the proposed reduction in his/her benefits, and (after the due process period has ended)
reduce the Veteran’s monthly rate to $90 effective the first day of the fourth month following the month the Veteran lost the dependent.
Reference: For more information about award adjustments under 38 CFR 3.551, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 6.B.