Survivors and Dependent Assistance
The Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or of Veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
Type of Assistance
Benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. If you are a spouse, you may take a correspondence course. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances. Get the DEA pamphlet and information on the Marine GYSGT John David Fry Scholarship.
Those eligible for DEA benefits may also be eligible for this additional assistance:
- Special Restorative Training VA may prescribe special restorative training where needed to overcome or lessen the effects of a physical or mental disability for the purpose of enabling an eligible person to pursue a program of education, special vocational program, or other appropriate goal. Medical care and treatment or psychiatric treatments are not included.
- Special Vocational Training VA may also approve these benefits for an eligible person who is not in need of special restorative training, but who requires such a program because of a mental or physical disability.
- Section 301 of Public Law 109-461 adds a new category to the definition of eligible person for DEA benefits. The new category covers the spouse or child of a person who VA determined has a service-connected permanent and total disability; and is at the time of VAs determination is a member of the armed forces who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care, services, or treatment; and is likely to be discharged or released from service for this service-connected disability. Persons eligible under this new provision may be eligible for DEA benefits effective Dec. 23, 2006, the effective date of the law.
Available Benefits and Eligibility
You may receive up to 45 months of education benefits. Effective Oct. 1, 2013, some DEA beneficiaries may be eligible for up to 81 months of GI Bill benefits if they use the Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance program in conjunction with an entitlement from other VA education programs. View current payment rates.
You must be the son, daughter, or spouse of:
- 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 permanent and total 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 Dec. 23, 2006.
Other Factors to Consider
If you are a son or daughter and wish to receive benefits for attending school or job training, you must be between the ages of 18 and 26. In certain instances, it is possible to begin before age 18 and to continue after age 26. Marriage is not a bar to this benefit. If you are in the armed forces, you may not receive this benefit while on active duty. To pursue training after military service, your discharge must not be under dishonorable conditions. VA 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.
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 VA rated the Veteran permanently and totally disabled with an effective date of three years from discharge, a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of the rating. This change is effective Oct. 10, 2008, and no benefits may be paid for any training taken prior to that date.
For surviving spouses of Servicemembers who died on active duty, benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
To apply, take these steps depending on your situation:
- Make sure that your selected program is approved for VA training. VA can inform you and the school or company about the requirements.
- To apply, obtain and complete VA Form 22-5490, Dependents Application for VA Education Benefits. Send it to the VA regional office with jurisdiction over the state where you will advance your education and training. If you are a son or daughter, under legal age, a parent or guardian must sign the application.
- If you have started your educational program, take your application to your school or employer. Ask them to complete VA Form 22-1999, Enrollment Certification, and send both forms to VA. (Note: Schools must contact their VA representative to receive this form.)