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M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, Chapter 5, Section L – Adjusting Awards for Dependents

Overview


In This Section

 
This section contains the following topics:
Topic
Topic Name
1
2
3
4

1.  Additional Compensation for Dependents


Introduction

 
This topic contains information on additional compensation for dependents, including

Change Date

February 25, 2019

III.iii.5.L.1.a.
Up-Front Development for Evidence/Information Required to Establish a Claimant’s Relationship to His/Her Dependent(s)

 
Upon receipt of an application for disability compensation, follow the instructions inM21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.A.1.h if
  • the claimant lists one or more dependents on the application, and
  • evidence/information required to establish the claimant’s relationship to the dependent(s) is not of record.
Important:  If a claim that requires a rating decision and a claim for additional compensation for a dependent are pending at the same time, and the Veteran already has a combined disability evaluation of at least 30 percent, do not delay a decision on the claim for additional compensation for a dependent pending resolution of the rating-related issues.
Reference:  For instructions on handling an application that is incomplete, seeM21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.A.4.b.

III.iii.5.L.1.b.  Adding Dependents Following the Assignment of a Combined Disability Evaluation of at Least 30 Percent

When promulgating a rating decision that assigns a combined disability evaluation of at least 30 percent, concurrently award additional disability compensation to which the Veteran is entitled for his/her dependents.
The policy expressed in the preceding paragraph applies even when no claim for additional compensation for a dependent or dependents is currently pending.  In this situation, award additional disability compensation to which the Veteran is entitled for his/her dependents under the pending rating end product (EP) if
  • the evidence of record indicates the Veteran has a dependent or dependents, and
  • the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) received the claim that triggered the rating decision
    • on or after March 24, 2015, and
    • prior to March 24, 2015, and information required to add the dependent is
      • of record, and
      • less than eight years old.
Notes:
  • The clearing of an EP 130 in connection with the action described in this block is appropriate only if the EP was established to control a claim for additional compensation for a dependents or dependents in accordance with the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.A.1.i.
  • March 24, 2015, represents the date VA began requiring claimants to submit claims on a prescribed form.
  • As explained in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.A.1.f, information that is already of record regarding the status of the dependents of a Veteran in receipt of disability compensation is considered valid for the purpose of making entitlement determinations for up to eight years from the date VA received it.

III.iii.5.L.1.c.  Notification Requirements When VA Assigns a Combined Disability  Evaluation of at Least 30 Percent

 
Each time the rating activity assigns to a Veteran a combined disability evaluation of at least 30 percent,
  • include in the corresponding decision notice the appropriate paragraphs that inform the Veteran of the dependent(s) for whom he/she is receiving additional benefits, and
  • notify the Veteran of potential eligibility for additional benefits for dependents in the decision notice (by providing the appropriate hyperlink to the forms the Veteran must submit to apply) unless
    • the decision notice already includes a request for evidence/information required to add a dependent, or
    • a dependent or dependents were added to the Veteran’s award concurrent with promulgation of the rating decision that triggered the decision notice.

Important:  The policy described in this block 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 (SC) for a new disability (regardless of whether or not the combined evaluation changes)
  • granting entitlement to a total disability evaluation based on individual unemployability (IU)
  • granting entitlement to special monthly compensation, and/or
  • establishing an earlier effective date for a combined disability evaluation of 30 percent or greater.
When preparing the decision notice described in this block, follow the instructions in the table below when the evidence of record suggests the Veteran has a dependent, or has claimed a dependent, that has not yet been added to his/her award.
If …
Then …
the Veteran did not apply for additional benefits for the dependent by completing one of the prescribed forms listed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 2.B.1.b
attempt to contact the claimant by telephone for the purpose of completingVA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependentsand/or VA Form 21-674, Request for Approval of School Attendance, on the claimant’s behalf.
information required to add the dependent is not of record or is of record but is more than eight years old (as explained in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.A.1.f)
attempt to obtain or verify the information by telephone.
  • attempts to contact the Veteran by telephone (for the reasons expressed in the first two rows of this table) are unsuccessful, or
  • documentary evidence is required to add a dependent
insert the appropriate development paragraphs into the decision notice.
the Veteran has identified an individual as a dependent, but the individual lacks the status of a dependent for VA purposes
Examples:  The individual is
  • a parent that is not financially dependent on the Veteran, or
  • a grandchild the Veteran has not adopted.
  • notify the Veteran (in the decision notice) of the reason(s) VA could not recognize the individual as a dependent, and
  • list the evidence VA considered when making its decision.
 
References:  Follow the instructions in

III.iii.5.L.1.d.  Using RADL to Meet Notification Requirements

 
When RADL is used to prepare notification of the types of rating decisions discussed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.1.c, the application automatically inserts the following paragraph into the decision notice:
Your combined evaluation is 30 percent or more disabling; therefore, you may be eligible for additional benefits based on dependency. We may be able to pay you retroactive benefits for your dependents if you submit your dependency claim within a year from the date of this letter. If you wish to notify us of your dependents, please do so through eBenefits, an electronic resource in a self-service environment. Use of these resources often helps us serve you faster! Just visit http://www.eBenefits.va.gov to enroll and submit your dependency information.
 
Exception:  RADL does not insert the above paragraph into a decision notice if
  • the decision notice already includes a request for evidence/information required to add a dependent, or
  • VA added a dependent or dependents to the Veteran’s award concurrent with promulgation of the rating decision that triggered the decision notice.
Follow the instructions in the table below when
  • entitlement to additional benefits for a dependent is granted or denied, and/or
  • additional evidence/information is required to grant entitlement to additional benefits for a dependent.
Action
Means for Completing the Action
Notify the Veteran that entitlement to additional benefits for a dependent was granted.
Complete the fields on the RECORD DECISIONS – DEPENDENCY screen, to include the selection of entries in the AWARD STATUS and DECISION fields that reflect the decision to grant entitlement.
Notify the Veteran that entitlement to additional benefits for a dependent was denied.
  • Complete the fields on the DEPENDENCY tab in Share.
  • Complete the fields on the RECORD DECISIONS – DEPENDENCY screen, to include the selection of entries in the AWARD STATUS and DECISION fields that reflect the
    • decision to deny entitlement, and
    • favorable findings of fact.
Note:  If the Veteran failed to provide the information required to complete the fields on the DEPENDENCY tab in Share, enter as free text (during letter generation) the decision made and the reason for it.
Notify the Veteran of the evidence considered.
List the evidence considered in the EVIDENCE field on the EVIDENCE LIST tab during letter generation.
Request evidence/information required to grant entitlement to additional benefits for a dependent.
Complete the applicable fields on the DEPENDENCY DEVELOPMENT tab during letter generation.
 
Reference:  For more information about preparing decision notices using RADL, see

III.iii.5.L.1.e.
EP Control When Requesting Evidence/ Information Required to Add a Dependent in a Decision Notice

Follow the instructions in the table below when
  • a Veteran lists 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 EP …
Then …
represents an originalclaim for benefits
Example:  EP 110 or 010.
request the missing evidence/information
  • without establishing an EP 130, and
  • without leaving the rating 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:  Regional offices (RO) may establish an EP 130 while an EP 110 or 010 is pending if
  • the rating activity
    • assigns a combined disability evaluation of at least 30 percent, and
    • defers one or more rating issues for additional development, and
  • VA subsequently receives a claim from the Veteran for additional compensation for a dependent.
does not represent an original claim for benefits
Example:  EP 020 or 040.
  • establish an EP 130 (unless one is already pending) to control for a response from the Veteran, and
  •  clear the EP when
    • all necessary development has been undertaken
    • all corresponding response periods have expired, and
    • VA either grants or denies entitlement to additional compensation for the dependent.
Important:  Do not establish EP 130 to control for a response from the Veteran if no claim for additional compensation for a dependent or dependents was pending when VA prepared the decision notice referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.1.c.

III.iii.5.L.1.f.  Veterans With a Combined Disability Evaluation That Is Less Than 30 Percent

If a Veteran with at least one service-connected disability and a combined disability evaluation that is less than 30 percent files a claim for additional compensation for a dependent, administratively deny the Veteran’s claim.
Important:  If a claim that might result in the assignment of a combined disability evaluation of at least 30 percent is concurrently pending, postpone a decision on the claim for additional compensation for a dependent until after the rating activity decides the disability claim.

2.  Determining the Proper Effective Date for Awarding Additional Compensation for Dependents


Introduction

 
This topic contains instructions for determining the proper effective date for awarding additional compensation for dependents, including

Change Date

December 8, 2017

III.iii.5.L.2.a.  Handling Responses to Requests for Evidence/ Information to Add a Dependent That VA Receives Within the One-Year Time Limit

 
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.L.1.c, grant entitlement to additional compensation for the dependent effective the later of the following dates:
Type of Dependent
Date
spouse
date the Veteran married his/her spouse
stepchild
date the Veteran married the stepchild’s biological or adoptive parent
biological child
child’s birthdate
adopted child
date the Veteran adopted the child
parent
date dependency arose (date the parent became financially dependent on the Veteran)
 
References:
  • The provisions of 38 CFR 3.401(b) govern the effective date of a Veteran’s entitlement to additional compensation for dependents.
  • See M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 2.A.2.b for a discussion of the difference between the effective date of entitlement and the effective date ofpayment.
  • M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.2.g contains additional instructions for determining the proper effective date for granting entitlement to additional compensation based on a same-sex marriage.

III.iii.5.L.2.b.  Effect of Sharp v. Shinseki on the Assignment of 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.L.2.a, stems from an October 15, 2009, decision by the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims inSharp v. Shinseki, 23 Vet.App. 267 (2009).
Prior to the decision in Sharp v. Shinseki, if a Veteran failed to provide evidence/information about his/her dependent(s) within one year of the date VAinitially requested it (following the initial rating of 30 percent or greater), VA granted entitlement to additional compensation for the dependent(s) from an effective date that was no earlier than
  • the date the Veteran eventually responded to the request, or
  • the date shown in the table in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.2.a (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, or
  • subsequent rating decisions that only
    • confirm and continue (a) current disability evaluation(s), or
    • deny SC.
Reference:  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).

III.iii.5.L.2.c.  Handling Responses to Requests for Evidence/ Information About a Dependent That VA Receives 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

III.iii.5.L.2.d.  Examples:  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 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 IU back to September 18, 2003.
Action:  Retroactively award entitlement to additional compensation for a spouse effective September 18, 2003.

III.iii.5.L.2.e.  Granting Entitlement Effective the Date of a Life Event, the Date of Claim, or the Date Dependency Arose

 
If a Veteran submits a claim for additional disability compensation for a dependentsolely because dependency arose or the Veteran experienced a life event, such as a marriage or birth (not in response to the decision notice referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.1.c), grant entitlement (if entitlement exists) effective the date shown in the table below.
If the claim is for additional compensation for a …
And …
Then grant entitlement effective the …
spouse
  • VA received the claim within one year of the date the Veteran married his/her spouse, and
  • the Veteran responds within one year to VA’s request for any additional evidence/information it requires to establish entitlement
date the Veteran married his/her spouse.
stepchild
  • VA received the claim within one year of the date the Veteran married the stepchild’s biological or adoptive parent, and
  • the Veteran responds within one year to VA’s request for any additional evidence/information it requires to establish entitlement
date the Veteran married the stepchild’s biological or adoptive parent.
biological child
  • VA received the claim within one year of the child’s birthdate, and
  • the Veteran responds within one year to VA’s request for any additional evidence/information it requires to establish entitlement
date of the child’s birth.
adopted child
  • VA received the claim within one year of the date the Veteran adopted the child, and
  • the Veteran responds within one year to VA’s request for any additional evidence/information it requires to establish entitlement
date the Veteran adopted the child.
parent
the Veteran responds within one year to VA’s request for any additional evidence/information it requires to establish entitlement
the later of the following dates:
  • date VA received the Veteran’s claim, or
  • date dependency arose (date the parent became  financially dependent on the Veteran).

III.iii.5.L.2.f.  Example:  Addition of a Dependent From the Date of a Life Event

Scenario:
  • VA assigns 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:  Grant entitlement to additional compensation for the child effective December 23, 2010.

III.iii.5.L.2.g. Effective Date for Granting Entitlement to Additional Compensation Based on a Same-Sex Marriage

On September 4, 2013, the U.S. Attorney General announced that the President had directed the Executive Branch to cease enforcement of 38 U.S.C. 101(3) and (31) to the extent it prevented government agencies from paying benefits based on the marriage of two individuals of the same sex.
The President’s directive allowed VA to recognize a same-sex marriage as valid, as long as the marriage was legal according to the law of the place where the individuals resided
  • at the time of the marriage, or
  • when the right to VA benefits accrued (which means the date the claimant became eligible for VA benefits or the date VA received the claim for VA benefits).
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that all states must
  • license a marriage between two individuals of the same sex, and
  • recognize a marriage between two individuals of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.
As a consequence of the Supreme Court ruling, the process for determining the validity of a same-sex marriage is now no different than the process for determining the validity of a marriage between individuals of the opposite sex (as described inM21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.B).
The table below explains how the President’s directive (which represents a liberalizing change in law) and the Supreme Court ruling affect the assignment of an effective date for entitlement to additional benefits based on a same-sex marriage.
If …
Then …
a claim for additional compensation based on a same-sex marriage was pending or open as of September 4, 2013
assign an effective date (in accordance with the provisions of 38 CFR 3.401(b) and the other blocks in this topic) as if the laws that prohibited VA from recognizing same-sex marriages had never been in effect.
Reference:  For an example of the policy expressed in this row, see the first scenario discussed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.2.h.
VA received  a claim for additional compensation based on a same-sex marriage afterSeptember 4, 2013
follow the instructions in the table below.
If …
Then assign an effective date in accordance with the provisions of …
  • the marriage at issue was performed on or beforeSeptember 4, 2013, and
  • VA received the claim within one year of the date of marriage
38 CFR 3.401(b) and the other blocks in this topic.
Reference:  For an example of the policy expressed in this row, see the second scenario discussed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.2.h.
  • the marriage at issue was performed on or beforeSeptember 4, 2013, and
  • VA did notreceive the claim within one year of the date of marriage
38 CFR 3.401(b) or 38 CFR 3.114, if doing so would be to the claimant’s advantage.
Important:  When assigning an effective date under the provisions of 38 CFR 3.114,
  • do not assign an effective date that is earlier than September 4, 2013, and
  • do not assign an effective date that is earlier than one year prior to the date VA received the claim.
References:
the marriage at issue was performed afterSeptember 4, 2013
38 CFR 3.401(b) and the other blocks in this topic.
Reference:  For an example of the policy expressed in this row, see the fifth scenario discussed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.2.h.
 
Notes:
  • The policies expressed in the table above apply regardless of whether or not the State in which the Veteran resided at the time of marriage, or at the time entitlement to additional compensation for a spouse arose, recognized same-sex marriages prior to the Supreme Court ruling.
  • If VA adds a same-sex spouse to a Veteran’s award effective the date of entitlement to a disability evaluation of at least 30 percent, then VA subsequently assigns a disability evaluation of at least 30 percent from an earlier effective date, add the spouse to the Veteran’s award effective thelater of the following dates, regardless of whether that date precedes September 4, 2013:
    • the new effective date of the disability evaluation of at least 30 percent, or
    • the date of marriage.
References:

III.iii.5.L.2.h.  Examples:  Selecting an Appropriate Effective Date for Adding a Same-Sex Spouse to a Veteran’s Award

The table below contains examples of the policies expressed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.2.g.
Scenario
Circumstances
Result
1
  • A Veteran with a 60-percent disability evaluation married his same-sex spouse on March 12, 2013.
  • The Veteran submitted a claim for additional compensation for his spouse on August 1, 2013.
Per 38 CFR 3.401(b), the Veteran is entitled to additional compensation for his spouse effective March 12, 2013.
2
  • A Veteran with a 60-percent disability evaluation married her same-sex spouse on March 12, 2013.
  • The Veteran submitted a claim for additional compensation for her spouse in January 2014.
Per 38 CFR 3.401(b), the Veteran is entitled to additional compensation for her spouse effective March 12, 2013.
3
  • A Veteran with a 60-percent disability evaluation married her same-sex spouse on February 8, 2012.
  • The Veteran submitted a claim for additional compensation for her spouse on January 1, 2014.
Per 38 CFR 3.114(a), the Veteran is entitled to additional compensation for her spouse effective September 4, 2013.
4
  • A Veteran with a 60-percent disability evaluation married his same-sex spouse on February 8, 2012.
  • The Veteran submitted a claim for additional compensation for his spouse on January 1, 2015.
Per 38 CFR 3.114(a)(3), the Veteran is entitled to additional compensation for his spouse effective January 1, 2014.
5
  • A Veteran with a 60-percent disability evaluation married her same-sex spouse on October 1, 2013.
  • The Veteran submitted a claim for additional compensation for her spouse on January 1, 2014.
Per 38 CFR 3.401(b), the Veteran is entitled to additional compensation for her spouse effective October 1, 2013.
6
  • A Veteran married his same-sex spouse on February 8, 2012.
  • VA granted the Veteran’s original claim for disability compensation, with a combined disability evaluation of 40 percent, effective April 29, 2013.
  • The corresponding award included additional benefits for the Veteran’s spouse.
  • VA subsequently granted SC for a new disability that was rated 30-percent disabling, effective October 3, 2011.
Under Sharp v. Shinseki, the Veteran is entitled to additional compensation for his spouse effective February 8, 2012.

3.  Special Considerations When Making Award Adjustments for Dependents


Introduction

 
This topic discusses special considerations when making adjustments for dependents, including

Change Date

February 27, 2017

III.iii.5.L.3.a.  Providing Notice of an Award Adjustment

 
Notify a beneficiary of any adjustment to his/her award because of a change in the status of a dependent.
Important:
  • If a third party notifies VA of a beneficiary’s loss of a dependent, provide a notice of proposed adverse action to the beneficiary before discontinuing the additional benefits.
  • Notify Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) of the change if the beneficiary is a Veteran receiving training under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 31.
    • E-mail notice to the VR&E mailbox of the RO that has custody of the Veteran’s Counseling/Evaluation/Rehabilitation folder.
    • Include in the e-mail
      • the Veteran’s name and claim number
      • the name of the dependent whose status has changed
      • an explanation of the reason for the change in status (such as death or divorce)
      • the date of the event that resulted in the change in status, and
      • the effective date of the corresponding award adjustment.
    • Upload a copy of the e-mail to the Veteran’s electronic claims folder.
Example:  The mailbox for the Salt Lake City RO’s VR&E office isVAVBASLC/RO/VRE.
References:  For information about

III.iii.5.L.3.b.  Effect of Separation or Estrangement

 
Separation or estrangement does not affect disability compensation awards unlessthe spouse files a claim for an apportionment.
Important:
  • Separation and estrangement are both factors that affect entitlement to pension.
  • Although 38 CFR 3.204(a)(1) requires a beneficiary to provide the address of a child that does not live with the beneficiary, there is no regulatory requirement that a Veteran provide the address of a spouse from whom the Veteran is separated or estranged.

III.iii.5.L.3.c.  Payment of Compensation While a Reduction Is Under Consideration

 
If either of the following actions are pending when a claim for additional compensation for dependents is pending or received, continue to adjudicate the claim:
Important:  The provisions of 38 CFR 3.501(g)(2) allow for payment of additional compensation for dependents until the actual severance/reduction occurs.

III.iii.5.L.3.d.  Handling a Change in the Status of a Parent or Schoolchild

 
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 …
See …
fact that a parent is no longer financially dependent
unscheduled discontinuance of school attendance of a child over age 18

III.iii.5.L.3.e.  Requirement to Notify a Child’s Custodian

 
Provide a notice of proposed adverse action to the custodian of any child whose rate of payment is adversely affected by a change in the status of a child or children on other awards.

III.iii.5.L.3.f.  Example:  Adjustment of a Child’s Award and Notification

 
Situation:
  • A deceased Veteran’s first spouse reports that 16-year-old Lisa’s marriage has been annulled and asks that Lisa’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (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.
Result:
  • Provide a 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 due process period ends.  (The due process period ends 60 days after the date of the notice of proposed adverse action.)
  • Retroactively reduce Robert’s award and create an overpayment at the end of the 65-day control period.
Notes:
  • If Lisa’s marriage is terminated by death or divorce, benefits are no longer payable for her.  Under Public Law 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 the adjudication of claims based on school attendance, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.

4.  Award Adjustments Necessitated by the Loss of a Dependent


Introduction

 
This topic contains general information on adjustments necessitated by the loss of a dependent, including

Change Date

November 29, 2018

III.iii.5.L.4.a.  When a Notice of Proposed Adverse Action to Remove a Dependent Is Not Required

 
A notice of proposed adverse action to remove a dependent is not required if a beneficiary or his/her custodian provides VA with the evidence or information that triggers a reduction or discontinuation of benefits.
Reference:  M21-1, Part I, 2.A.2.a describes the circumstances under which a notice of proposed adverse action is required.

III.iii.5.L.4.b.  When the End-of-Month Rule Applies to the Removal of a Dependent From a Beneficiary’s Award

 
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, current-law pension, or DIC is the last day of the month in which the event occurs ifthe reduction or discontinuance is due to the loss of a
  • spouse because of
    • divorce
    • a voided or annulled marriage, or
    • death, or
  • child because of
    • marriage
    • adoption
    • death, or
    • discontinuance of school attendance.
Important:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The requirement to remove a child that was given up for adoption from an award of disability compensation went into effect on September 14, 2015. Removal of an adopted child from an award of disability compensation from an effective date earlier than September 14, 2015, would be improper.
References:  For more information about

III.iii.5.L.4.c.  When the End-of-Month Rule Does Not Apply to the Removal of a Dependent From a Beneficiary’s Award

 
The table below contains a description of the circumstances under which the end-of-month rule does not apply to the removal of a dependent from a beneficiary’s award.
If …
Then …
removal of the dependent from the beneficiary’s award will result in anincrease in benefits
remove the dependent from the beneficiary’s award effective the date of the event that resulted in loss of the dependent.
  • removal of the dependent from the beneficiary’s award will result in a reduction in benefits
  • the beneficiary lost the dependent for any reason other than those cited in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.4.b
  • the beneficiary lost the dependent on or after October 1, 1982, and
  • the beneficiary is not receiving Section 306 or Old-Law Pension
removal of the dependent from the beneficiary’s award will result in areduction in benefits and
  • the beneficiary lost the dependent prior to October 1, 1982, or
  • the beneficiary is receiving Section 306 or Old-Law Pension
remove the dependent from the beneficiary’s award effective the first of the year following the date of the event that resulted in loss of the dependent.

III.iii.5.L.4.d.  Removing a Child From a Beneficiary’s Award Based on the Results of a Paternity Test

The results of a paternity or similar type of test might require the removal of a child from a beneficiary’s award.  Before removing the child, determine whether VA may recognize him/her as a stepchild under 38 CFR 3.57(b).
If VA may no longer recognize an individual as a Veteran’s child based on the results of a paternity test, remove the individual from the beneficiary’s award according to the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.4.c.  (The date the beneficiary received the results of the test represents “the date of the event” referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.4.c.)
Exception:  Follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 3.B.6.g, if VA is apportioning benefits to the individual VA must remove from the beneficiary’s award.
Note:  Do not request a copy of the paternity test unless
  • the beneficiary’s statement regarding the results and date of the paternity test raises a question of its validity
  • the beneficiary’s statement conflicts with other evidence of record, or
  • there is a reasonable indication of fraud or misrepresentation.
References:  For more information about

III.iii.5.L.4.e.  Removing a Dependent From a Beneficiary’s Award

 
When removing a dependent from a beneficiary’s award, follow the steps in the table below.
Step
Action
1
Access the DEPENDENCY DECISION screen.
2
Select the line in the grid that removes the dependent.
3
Select the EDIT button.
4
Enter the date of loss of the dependent in the EVENT DATE field.
5
Select Not an Award Dependent in the AWARD STATUS field.
6
Select the reason for removal (such as Divorce or Death) in the DECISION field.
7

Does the first-of-the-month rule referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.4.b and c apply?

  • If yes, enter the first day of the month following the date of loss of the dependent in the AWARD EFFECTIVE DATE field.
  • If no,
8
Select the ACCEPT button to update the grid.
9
Select the OK button to save the decision and close the screen.
10
Was removal of the dependent from the beneficiary’s award necessitated by the dependent’s death?
  • If yes, update the corporate record (using Share) to reflect the date of the dependent’s death.
  • If no, take no further action.
 
Reference:  For more information on removing a dependent in

III.iii.5.L.4.f.  Action to Take if a Beneficiary Fails to Provide Information Required to Remove a Dependent

 
If a beneficiary notifies VA of the loss of a dependent but does not provide the following information, attempt to obtain it from the beneficiary by telephone:
  • the date (month, day, and year) of the event (such as death or divorce) that necessitates removal of the dependent from the beneficiary’s award, and
  • the location (city and state, or city and country, if the city is outside the U.S.) of the same event.
Follow the instructions in the table below if attempts to obtain the missing information by telephone are unsuccessful.
If …
Then …
only thelocation of the event is missing
remove the dependent from the beneficiary’s award without taking further steps to determine the location of the event.
Note:  Making the location of the event a matter of record ispreferred but not required in this case.
the date of the event is missing
  • reduce/discontinue benefits effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share, and
  • notify the beneficiary (by letter) that
    • unless he/she provides the date of the event 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, and
    • such an award adjustment would result in the creation of an overpayment that the beneficiary would be responsible for repaying.
Important:  Include in the letter to the beneficiary the date he/she last verified his/her entitlement to additional benefits for the dependent.
Reference:  For more information on issuing notice of a proposed adverse action, see M21-1, Part I, 2.B.
 
Notes:
  • If a beneficiary provides only the name of the city in which an event took place, VA does not require the beneficiary to provide the name of the State, as long as the city is well-known (such as Atlanta or Chicago).
  • Follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 1.B.1.e for documenting attempts to contact a Veteran by telephone.

III.iii.5.L.4.g.  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.

III.iii.5.L.4.h.  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
    • schoolchild’s
      • 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 effective the first day of the month following the month during which the child last attended school, per 38 CFR 3.667(c).
Reference:  For more information about the marriage of a beneficiary’s child, seeM21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.H.

III.iii.5.L.4.i.  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.5.e.
  • If the Veteran is receiving current-law pension and is hospitalized at VA expense, do not reduce his/her benefits.
  • If the Veteran is receiving current-law 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.


III.iii.5.L.4.j.  Handling a Renouncement of the Right to Additional Benefits for a Dependent

 
38 CFR 3.106 allows an individual that is entitled to compensation, pension, or DIC to renounce his/her right to that benefit.  However, an individual may not renounce individual components of a benefit, such as the additional benefits VA pays for a dependent.
Veterans entitled to disability compensation may choose not to add a dependent to his/her award.  However, once VA has added the dependent, VA will not remove him/her from the Veteran’s award unless and until the Veteran loses entitlement to additional benefits for that dependent due to, for example, death or divorce.
References:  For more information about
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