This topic contains information about establishing a stepchild as a Veteran’s child for VA purposes, including
definition of stepchild
requirement that the stepchild be a member of the Veteran’s household
overview of the process for establishing a stepchild as a Veteran’s child
requesting evidence to establish a stepchild as the child of a Veteran
effect of a Veteran’s separation from his/her spouse on entitlement to death benefits
termination of a Veteran’s marriage to his/her stepchild’s parent before VA grants benefits
effect of separation or termination of a Veteran’s marriage on a stepchild’s status
action to take when a stepchild’s biological or adoptive parent dies or separates from or terminates his/her marriage with the Veteran
handling a Veteran’s response to the notice of proposed adverse action, and
action to take if a Veteran does not respond to the notice of adverse action.
September 19, 2014
a. Definition: Stepchild
According to 38 CFR 3.57(b), the term “stepchild” refers to the legitimate or illegitimate child of a Veteran’s spouse. It also refers to the child of a surviving spouse whose marriage to a Veteran VA has deemed valid.
References: For more information on deemed-valid marriages, see M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.E.26.
receiving (or was receiving at the time of the Veteran’s death) at least half of his/her support from the Veteran.
Important: The awarding of legal custody to someone other than the Veteran does not affect the stepchild’s status as a child of the Veteran as long as the child is actually a member of the Veteran’s household.
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42. Establishing a Stepchild as a Veteran’s Child for VA Purposes, Continued
c. Overview of the Process for Establishing a Stepchild as a Veteran’s Child
The table below provides a general overview of the process for establishing a stepchild as a Veteran’s child for VA purposes. The remaining blocks within this topic contain the details for completing this process.
Follow the instructions in M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.B.5 and 6 for establishing the Veteran’s marriage to the stepchild’s biological or adoptive parent.
Establish the stepchild’s relationship to the biological or adoptive parent to whom the Veteran is/was married.