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Adding Dependents to Your VA Benefits


If you’re receiving disability compensation from us, you may be eligible for an increase in benefits to help support your family. Veterans who have a 30% or higher disability rating can add eligible dependents to their compensation benefits to get a higher payment, also known as a “benefit rate.”

Who is a "dependent?"

Dependents you may add to your VA disability compensation include:

  • A Spouse (including spouses in same-sex marriages and common-law marriages)
  • Children (including biological children, step children, and adopted children) who are unmarried and either:
    • Under the age of 18
    • Between the ages of 18-23 and attending school full-time, or
    • Who were seriously disabled before the age of 18
  • Parents, who are in your direct care and whose income and net worth are below the limit set by law

How to add a dependent to your benefits

The fastest way to add a dependent is online through eBenefits. When you file your dependency claim online, we can make a decision on your claim in as little as 48 hours and it preserves the date of your claim should you receive a favorable award.

Simply log in and click “Dependents” in the left column of your personal dashboard, or click "Add Remove a Dependent" under the Apply section on the eBenefits homepage. Follow the easy, step-by-step instructions and click, Submit. For more information on the online application process, watch these quick tutorials for adding a spouse and child under the age of 18 and for adding a child over the age of 18.

NOTE: You must have a Premium eBenefits account in order to file your claim online. Don’t have a Premium eBenefits account? Learn how to get one in this short tutorial.

If you’ve already submitted a paper dependency claim, but have not received a decision from us, you should resubmit your claim online through eBenefits. Filing online will allow you to begin receiving your benefits sooner. Your paper claim will still be reviewed, and we will evaluate both the paper and online claim applications. If you’re entitled to additional pay, you will be paid based on the most beneficial effective date.

NOTE: Parents and spouses in common law marriages, cannot be added to your benefits online through eBenefits. To add a parent as a dependent, use VA Form 21-509, Statement of Dependency of Parents and to add a spouse from a common law marriage, submit VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents. See the "adding a dependent using the VA paper forms" section below for more information on submitting paper dependency claims.

When to add a dependent

If you did not add your dependents as part of your initial disability claim, it’s important to add them as soon as you receive your 30% or higher rating decision from us. In some cases, we will only pay back benefits to the date you started your new dependency claim.

Filing online lets you save that start date while you gather your information. Once you begin your online application, you have 365 days to put in all the required information and submit your claim. If awarded, your claim will be paid based on the most beneficial effective date.

Make sure all the information you provide is correct, and don’t leave any fields blank. Your claim cannot be submitted if required information is missing. Incorrect information can cause a delay in getting your claim processed.

Adding a dependent using the VA paper forms

We strongly encourage Veterans to file dependency claims online through eBenefits. However, if you can’t file your claim online, you can use these paper forms to add dependents to your benefits:

After you fill out your paper forms, mail them to our claim intake center for processing. You can also work with an accredited Veterans Service Organization, who can answer any questions you have about the claim process or the specific paper forms.

Additional Resources

Have more questions about dependency claims and filing them online through eBenefits? Check out the resources below, or contact your local, accredited Veterans Service Organization.

Thumbnail Image: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Get the answers to the most common questions Veterans have when adding a dependent to their benefits.

Download the FAQs     
Thumbnail Image: Filing an Online Dependency CLaim Infographic

Infographic: Filing an Online Dependency Claim

A quick over of what you need to know about filing a dependency claim online through eBenefits.

View the Infographic     
Thumbnail Image: Online Dependency Claim Checklist

Online Dependency Claim Checklist

Don’t forget to review this checklist before submitting your online dependency claim

Download the Checklist     
Thumbnail Image: Adding a Dependent on eBenefits Factsheet

Adding a Dependent on eBenefits Factsheet

This factsheet provides an overview of the process for filing your dependency claim through eBenefits, including information about the web portal.

Download the Factsheet