VA Disability Compensation Recipients:
When was the last time you logged into eBenefits and checked to ensure your dependents appear on your current disability award?
I want to start this by saying that I am not an expert in how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) works. I am just a veteran trying to pass on my experiences to others, because I am running into a concerning number of fellow vets who are not aware of something that I’ve experienced – making the network work.
Recently a vet friend asked me about my compensation for my kids in college. To be frank, I had no idea what he was talking about. He went on to tell me that our children are in the VA system and we get compensation for our dependents, but when our children turn 18 years old they are automatically disenrolled from the VA and we no longer get compensation for them. If your children are enrolled in school (high school or college) then you receive a higher rate of compensation than if you had no dependents. Here’s the VA page for reference.
I was like most vets. I retired and went to work because I was not independently wealthy and I damn sure had not won the lottery–so working was critical. I had heard something about all of this during TAP but like many people I took no action. They can and will disenroll your dependents automatically without sending you any electronic or hard copy reminder or notification.
It is your responsibility that your dependents remain on your award.
For example, when your minor dependent turns 18 they will be automatically removed from your award. They are entitled to stay on your award if they are still in high school or are/will attend post-high school education (e.g., college) but YOU MUST notify the VA to keep them on. See more on the VA benefits website.
My friend told me all of this, and I went back in and had to submit a claim because I had 2 kids in college and I had not gotten any money for one who was a college senior. I could have been receiving around $200+ a month for her – more than $2,400.00 annually. What is sad is I had missed 3.5 years of this compensation… which comes to more than $7,200.00. I did get some back pay, but only for one year. I think I lost 1.5 years for my second child and when you add that up it is real money that I was authorized and didn’t get.
There’s a lot we don’t know!
This might not be news to everyone, so many vets are not aware of this and I felt compelled to write this blog hoping I can help others. As I said, I am not an expert, and I am sure there are other things that we should pass on to folks in the SOF community. If anyone else has something they want to share with this community and you’d like to blog about it, please reach out to Chelsea, our blog-keeper, and let her know.