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M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, Chapter 6, Section B – Awards and Adjustments Based Upon School Attendance

Overview


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:
Topic
Topic Name
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2
3
4
5
6
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8

1.  Effective Dates of Payment


Introduction

This topic contains general information on the effective dates of payment of awards based on school attendance, including

Change Date

April 11, 2018

III.iii.6.B.1.a.Effective Date of Payment If a Child Was Attending School on His/Her 18thBirthday

Entitlement to compensation or pension based on a child’s school attendance is effective on the date of the child’s 18th birthday if
  • the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) receives a claim for benefits based on school attendance within one year of the child’s 18th birthday, and
  • the child was attending school on his/her 18th birthday, or
    • turned 18 during a school break
    • attended school during the term that immediately preceded the break, and
    • resumed school attendance at the end of the break.
If addition of a school child to a compensation or pension award results in an increased rate of payment, 38 CFR 3.31 prohibits payment of the higher rate prior to the first of the month following the child’s 18th birthday.
Under these circumstances
  • continue the prior rate of payment through the end of the month in which the child’s 18th birthday falls, and
  • pay the increased rate effective the first day of the following month.
Note:  Continue to include payments of compensation or pension based on school attendance in the award to the Veteran or surviving spouse having actual or constructive custody of the child, even though the child has reached the age of majority, unless direct payment of benefits to the child is warranted under M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.7.
References:  For more information on

III.iii.6.B.1.b.Effective Date of Payment If a Child Was Not Attending School on His/Her 18th Birthday

If VA receives a claim for additional benefits based on school attendance within one year of a child’s 18th birthday, but the child was not attending school on his/her birthday, pay the additional benefits effective the first day of the month following the month in which school attendance began.
Exception:  Follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.1.a if the child
  • turned 18 during a school break
  • attended school during the term that immediately preceded the break, and
  • resumed school attendance at the end of the break.
Note:  The instructions in this block are based on an assumption that 38 CFR 3.31prohibits the payment of benefits from the date of entitlement.
Reference:  For more information on the payment of benefits based on schoolattendance, see 38 CFR 3.667.

III.iii.6.B.1.c.Effective Date of Payment If VA Receives a Claim One Year or More After a Child Turns 18

If VA receives a claim for additional benefits based on school attendance one year or more after a child turns 18, pay the additional benefits effective the first day of the month following the month school attendance began, as long as
  • VA receives the claim within one year of the date school attendance began, and
  • the child did not turn 23 before school attendance began.
Example:
Scenario:  A Veteran first files a claim for benefits based on school attendance when his daughter is 20 years old.  The Veteran files the claim on October 12, 2011, and concurrently submits VA Form 21-674, Request for Approval of School Attendance, showing school attendance during the following periods:
  • September 6, 2010, through December 22, 2010, and
  • January 3, 2011, through April 29, 2011.
Analysis:
  • Because the Veteran did not file a claim within one year of the date school attendance began in September 2010, the earliest date from which VA may pay benefits based on school attendance is February 1, 2011 (first of the month following the month school attendance began in January 2011).
  • The date on which the latter of the two school sessions began dictates the date the Veteran is entitled to additional benefits for his school child.  Had the Veteran simply indicated on VA Form 21-674 that school attendance began September 6, 2010, and ended April 29, 2011, it would have been necessary to undertake development to determine the date on which the latter school session began.
Notes:
  • If school attendance begins at a future date, follow the instructions inM21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.5.b.
  • The instructions in this block are based on an assumption that payment of benefits from the date of entitlement is prohibited by 38 CFR 3.31.
  • If entitlement to additional benefits for a schoolchild begins on the date a given school session begins, and the date the school session began is not of record, attempt to obtain the date from the claimant by
    • contacting the school, or
    • accessing the school calendar that most schools post on their website.
Exception:  M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.1.d, describes an exception to the policy discussed in this block.
Reference:  For more information on the payment of benefits based on school attendance, see 38 CFR 3.667.

III.iii.6.B.1.d.  Exception to the Policy Expressed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.1.c

It is acceptable to pay additional benefits for a school child effective the first day of the month following the month school attendance began – even though VA received the claim for additional benefits one year or more after school attendance began – under the following circumstance:
  • VA makes a decision that results in the assignment of a combined disability rating of at least 30 percent (even if the Veteran’s combined disability rating was already 30 percent or higher, as explained under theImportant sublabel in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.1.c)
  • within one year of the date VA notifies the Veteran of the corresponding decision, he/she files a claim for additional benefits for a school child, and
  • the school child attended school at any time after the effective date of the disability rating.
Example:  The effective date of an award of additional benefits for a school child would be October 1, 2013, in the scenario described below:
  • On August 11, 2016, VA assigned a combined disability rating of 50 percent to a Veteran whose previous combined disability rating was 20 percent.
  • The effective date of the new disability rating is April 5, 2012.
  • VA notified the Veteran of the rating decision on August 12, 2016.
  • On October 2, 2016, the Veteran submitted a claim for additional benefits for an 18-year-old child who began attending school on September 1, 2013.
Important:  If the school child referenced in this block was attending school as of the effective date of the new disability rating, the Veteran would be entitled to additional benefits for the school child effective the date of the new disability rating.
Example:  The effective date of an award of additional benefits for a school child would be May 1, 2012, in the scenario described below:
  • On August 11, 2016, VA assigned a combined disability rating of 50 percent to a Veteran whose previous combined disability rating was 20 percent.
  • The effective date of the new disability rating is April 5, 2012.
  • VA notified the Veteran of the rating decision on August 12, 2016.
  • On October 2, 2016, the Veteran submitted a claim for additional benefits for an 18-year-old child who began attending school on January 5, 2012.
Reference:  For an explanation of the difference between the effective day of entitlement and the effective date of an award of benefits, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 2.A.2.b.

III.iii.6.B.1.e.Effective Date of Payment of DIC to a School Child

A child is independently entitled to DIC if he/she is
  • between the ages of 18 and 23
  • attending a VA-accredited school, and
  • not receiving
    • Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA), or
    • education benefits under 38 U.S.C. 3311 (Marine Gunnery Sergeant David Fry Scholarship).
Important:  M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.2 describes exceptions to the general prohibition of concurrent payment of DIC and education benefits.
Use the table below to determine the proper effective date for payment of DIC to a child who turns age 18 while attending school.
If VA has been paying …
Then the proper effective date for payment of DIC is the …
additional DIC benefits for the child to a surviving spouse
first day of the month after the child’s 18thbirthday.
  • DIC to the child through a fiduciary, and
  • there is no surviving spouse
child’s 18th birthday.
DIC for the child under an apportioned award
child’s 18th birthday.
Note:  When a surviving spouse exists, the school-child rate is less than the minor child apportioned rate. Therefore, the delayed payment provision of 38 CFR 3.31 does notapply.
References:  For more information on

III.iii.6.B.1.f.Processing Awards Based on School Attendance

To add a dependent as a school child, enter the following on the DEPENDENCY DECISION screen:
  • the date school attendance began in the EVENT DATE field
  • School Child in the AWARD STATUS field, and
  • School Attendance Begins in the DECISION field.
Reference:  For more information about processing awards in the

III.iii.6.B.1.g.Discontinuing Benefits That Are Based on School Attendance

Any award of benefits based on school attendance will have an end date that corresponds with the date the school child stopped or plans to stop attending school.  Accordingly, discontinue benefits that are based on school attendance effective the earlier of the following dates:
  • first day of the month following the month in which school attendance ended or will end, or
  • the child’s 23rd birthday.
When adjusting benefits, enter the following on the DEPENDENCY DECISION screen:
  • the date school attendance ended in the EVENT DATE field
  • Not an Award Dependent in the AWARD STATUS field, and
  • School Attendance Terminates or Turns 23 (whichever is appropriate) in the DECISION field.
References:

2.  Concurrent Payment of Education Benefits and Disability or Survivors Benefits


Introduction

This topic contains information about concurrent payment of education benefits and disability or survivors benefits, including

Change Date

December 19, 2018

III.iii.6.B.2.a.Prohibition of Concurrent Payment of DEA and Disability or Survivors Benefits

Concurrent payment of DEA and disability benefits (compensation or pension) or survivors benefits (death compensation, survivors pension, or DIC) is prohibitedunless the education benefit is for a
  • child that is
    • under age 18, or
    • age 18 or older and permanently incapable of self-support, or
  • spouse or surviving spouse.
 References:  For more information on

III.iii.6.B.2.b.  History of Education Benefits for Dependents Under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 33

Public Law (PL) 110-252 provided a transferability option under the Post-9/11 GI Bill (38 U.S.C. 3319) that allows service members to transfer all or some of their unused education benefits to their spouse or child(ren).  PL 111-377 extended that same option to members of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Department of Defense (DoD) determines whether or not benefits may be transferred.  Once DoD approves a transfer, dependents must apply for the benefit through VA.
PL 111-32 amended the Post-9/11 GI Bill to allow education benefits (under 38 U.S.C. 3311) for the children of service members who die in the line of duty after September 10, 2001, under the Fry Scholarship.
Spouses became eligible for education benefits under the Fry Scholarship (38 U.S.C. 3311) beginning January 1, 2015.

III.iii.6.B.2.c.  Concurrent Payment of Disability or Survivors Benefits and Education Benefits Under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 33

Use the information in the table below to determine whether the concurrent payment of disability or survivors benefits and education benefits under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 33 is allowed or prohibited.
If …
Then …
a spouse and/or child is entitled to education benefits under 38 U.S.C. 3319(transferred entitlement)
concurrent payment of disability or survivors benefits to or for the same spouse and/or child is allowed.
an individual is entitled to education benefits under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 33based on his/her own service
concurrent payment of disability or survivors benefits to or for the same individual is allowed.
a child is entitled to education benefits under the Fry Scholarship (38 U.S.C. 3311)
concurrent payment of disability or survivors benefits to or for the same child is prohibited under 38 U.S.C 3322(f)unless the education benefit is for a child that is
  • under age 18, or
  • age 18 or older andpermanently incapable of self-support.
Note:  Concurrent payment of DIC and education benefits under the Fry Scholarship were not prohibited for those individuals who began a program of education under the Fry Scholarshipprior to August 1, 2011.

III.iii.6.B.2.d.  Benefit Adjustments Before and After a Child Turns 18

Do not adjust an award of disability or survivors benefits because of concurrent receipt of DEA or education benefits under the Fry Scholarship (38 U.S.C. 3311)
  • for any period prior to a child’s 18th birthday
  • for any period between a child’s 18th birthday and the date he/she begins receiving DEA or education benefits under the Fry Scholarship, providedthe child was attending school or was on a routine school break during that same period of time, or
  • while a child is permanently incapable of self-support.

III.iii.6.B.2.e.Children With More Than One Veteran-Parent

VA may not concurrently pay DEA or education benefits under the Fry Scholarship (38 U.S.C. 3311) to a child, based on the service of one Veteran-parent, and death compensation, survivors pension, or DIC, based on the service of another Veteran-parent, unless
  • the child is
    • under age 18, or
    • age 18 or older and permanently incapable of self-support, and
  • both Veteran-parents
    • are in the same parental line, and
    • died before June 9, 1960.
Example:  A child has two Veteran-parents in the same parental line if the child has a
  • biological father who is/was a Veteran, and
  • stepfather who is/was a Veteran.
References:  For more information on

III.iii.6.B.2.f.Other Situations Under Which Concurrent Payment Is Allowed

A parent may receive additional compensation, pension, or DIC for a child that is concurrently receiving education or vocational rehabilitation benefits based on the child’s status as a Veteran.
Payment of Social Security benefits based on school attendance is not a bar to concurrent payment of disability or survivors benefits based on the same school attendance.

3.  Adjustment of Disability and Survivors Benefits Based on a Child’s Receipt of Education Benefits


Introduction

This topic contains information about the adjustment of disability and survivors benefits based on a child’s receipt of education benefits, including

Change Date

May 10, 2019

III.iii.6.B.3.a.   RPO Notification of ROs Concerning Initial Awards of Education Benefits

When a regional processing office (RPO) processes an initial award of DEA or education benefits under the Fry Scholarship (38 U.S.C. 3311) to a child, it notifies the regional office (RO) with permanent jurisdiction over the corresponding claims folder by sending an e-mail to the RO’s Chapter 35 (CH 35) mailbox.  The RO must then determine whether a corresponding adjustment to disability or survivors benefits is necessary.
The table below contains instructions for handling e-mails from RPOs that notify an RO of an initial award of education benefits to a child.
Step
Action
1
Follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 4.G.2.b for
  • converting the e-mail and any relevant attachments into a portable document format (PDF) file, and
  • uploading the file into the appropriate electronic claims folder (eFolder).
2
Did VA pay (or is VA still paying) disability or survivors benefits to or for the child the RPO referenced in its e-mail during a period of time when concurrent payment of education benefits and disability or survivors benefits is or was prohibited?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no,
    • leave an electronic annotation on the RPO’s e-mail that explains why no award adjustment was necessary, and
    • disregard the remaining steps in this table.
Important:  If an initial award of education benefits to a child commences at the end of a routine break between school sessions (such as a summer break), disability or survivors benefits may be payable to or for the child during the break, according to the policy expressed in
Reference:  For more information about annotating electronic documents in an eFolder, see the VBMS User Guide.
3
Establish end product (EP) 130 add Potential Under/Overpayment as a special issue.
4
Follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.3.b.
Reference:  For information on the alignment of ROs and RPOs, see M21-1, Part IX, Subpart ii, 2.11.a.

III.iii.6.B.3.b.Instructions for Adjusting Disability or Survivors Benefits

If concurrent payment of education benefits and disability or survivors benefits is prohibited under M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.2, determine whether the disability or survivors benefit may be adjusted without giving notice of proposed adverse action.
If the child is
  • receiving survivors benefits in his/her own right,
    • discontinue benefits without providing due process, and
    • send the child contemporaneous notice of the action taken, or
  • included as a dependent on a compensation, pension, or DIC award, follow the instructions in the table below.
If notice of the concurrent payment of benefits came from …
Then …
a source other than the primary beneficiary, such as an RPO
send the primary beneficiary a notice of proposed adverse action before removing the child from his/her award.
Note:  When establishing EP 600, use the CH35 Dependent Removal Due Process claim label.
the primary beneficiary
  • remove the child from the primary beneficiary’s award without providing due process, and
  • send the primary beneficiary contemporaneous notice of the action taken.
Note:  If the primary beneficiary failed to provide the effective date of the first payment of education benefits,
  • determine the date by
    • accessing the M21 screen (which displays awards of education benefits and their effective dates) in the Benefits Delivery Network (BDN), or
    • following the instructions in Steps 3 and 4 of the procedure outlined inM21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.8.b, and
  • adjust the primary beneficiary’s award as if he/she had provided the effective date of the first payment of education benefits.
Notes:
  • Upload any supporting documents, such as a screen shot of the BDN M21 screen, into the Veteran’s eFolder.
  • Ensure only the information specifically related to the child under review is uploaded into the appropriate Veteran’s eFolder.
  • When adjusting benefits based on a child’s receipt of education benefits, enter the following on the DEPENDENCY DECISION screen:
    • the effective date of the initial grant of entitlement to education benefits in the EVENT DATE and AWARD EFF. DT. fields, and
    • Elects CH 35 in the DECISION field.
  • According to 38 CFR 3.503(a)(8), the effective date for reducing or discontinuing disability or survivors benefits based on a child’s receipt of education benefits is the “[d]ay preceding beginning date of educational assistance allowance.”  VA’s awards-processing systems pay benefitsthrough that day, making the next day (the effective date of the initial grant of entitlement to education benefits)
    • the first day of non-payment, and
    • the date claims processor must enter in the EVENT DATE and AWARD EFF. DT. fields.
References:  For more information on

III.iii.6.B.3.c.Overpayments Created When an Award Is Adjusted to Reflect a Child’s Election of Education Benefits

Any overlap in the payment of education benefits and disability or survivors benefits
  • requires adjustment of the disability or survivors benefit, and
  • will result in the creation of an overpayment.
If, prior to the award of education benefits, VA had been paying benefits
  • to the child, the finance activity of the RPO of jurisdiction is responsible for recouping any overpayment from the initial payment of education benefits to the child, or
  • for the child, to a Veteran or surviving spouse, VA will create an overpayment in the Veteran’s or surviving spouse’s account.
Reference:  For more information on handling an overpayment resulting from the concurrent payment of DEA and disability or survivors benefits, see VBA Letter 20-01-13, DEA (Dependents’ Educational Assistance) Claims – Chapter 35.

4.  Miscellaneous Award Actions Involving School Attendance


Introduction

This topic contains information on miscellaneous award actions involving school attendance, including

Change Date

September 6, 2018

III.iii.6.B.4.a.Transfers to a Different School

Follow the steps in the table below upon receipt of notice that a school child has transferred to a different school.
Notes:
  • Do not interrupt the payment of benefits solely because a school child transferred to another school.
  • A separate VA Form 21-674 is required for each change in schools.
Step
Action
1
Send notice to the beneficiary that unless he/she completes and returns VA Form 21-674 within 30 days, VA will discontinue the benefits it is paying that are based on school attendance.
2
Establish EP 130 to control for return of the form and add Potential Under/Overpayment as a special issue.
3
Did the beneficiary return VA Form 21-674 (or provide the information the form requests to one of VA’s national call centers (NCCs)) within 30 days?
  • If yes,
    • clear the EP 130 or amend the award under this EP (if information contained on VA Form 21-674necessitates an adjustment)
    • send a decision notice to the beneficiary, and
    • take no further action.
  • If no, proceed to the next step.
4
Clear the EP 130.
5
Determine the effective date of the proposed reduction or discontinuance by
6
Send a notice of proposed adverse action that
  • contains the elements in M21-1, Part I, 2.B.2, and
  • informs the beneficiary that he/she must reply within 60 days.
7
Establish EP 600 to control for a response and add Potential Under/Overpayment as a special issue.
8
Did the beneficiary return VA Form 21-674 (or provide the information the form requests to one of VA’s NCCs) within the additional 65-day period?
  • If yes,
    • clear the EP 600 or amend the award under this EP (if information contained on VA Form 21-674necessitates an adjustment), and
    • send a decision notice to the beneficiary.
  • If no,
    • discontinue benefits that are based on school attendance from the effective date selected in Step 5, and
    • send a decision notice to the beneficiary.
Reference:  For information on the elements a decision notice must contain, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 2.B.1.b.

III.iii.6.B.4.b.Changes in a School Child’s Course of Instruction

Do not request completion of VA Form 21-674 if a school child changes his/her course of instruction but remains at the same approved educational institution.

III.iii.6.B.4.c.Early Termination of School Attendance

Use the table below to determine the action to take if a child stops attending school from a date earlier than the beneficiary originally reported.
If school attendance ended during …
Then …
the regular school year
discontinue or reduce the award effective the first day of the month following the month in which school attendance ended.
Reference:  For more information on dates of reduction or discontinuance, see 38 CFR 3.667(c).
a regularly scheduled vacation period
reduce or discontinue the award effective theearlier of the following dates:
  • the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share, or
  • first day of the month school was scheduled to resume.
Reference:  For more information on withdrawal from school during a vacation period, see 38 CFR 3.667(b).
Notes:
  • Provide a notice of proposed adverse action prior to discontinuing or reducing an award if information is received from someone other than the payee.
  • Beneficiaries should use VA Form 21-674b, School Attendance Report, to report early termination of school attendance. However, they may also notify VA by telephone, e-mail, or fax.
  • Handle information received by telephone as shown in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 1.B.1.f.
Reference:  For more information on the specific requirements for notices of proposed adverse action, see M21-1, Part I, 2.B.

III.iii.6.B.4.d.Death or Marriage of a School Child

If a school child on a Veteran’s or surviving spouse’s award dies or marries, follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.L.4.h.

III.iii.6.B.4.e.School Children That VA Determines Are Permanently Incapable of Self-Support

If VA’s rating activity determines a school child is permanently incapable of self-support, change the status of the child by entering the following on the DEPENDENCY DECISION screen:
  • Helpless Child in the AWARD STATUS field, and
  • Rated Helpless in the DECISION field.
The effective date of the change in status is the earlier of the following dates:
  • child’s 23rd birthday, or
  • first of the month following the month school attendance ends.
References:  For information on

III.iii.6.B.4.f.    DIC Awards Based on School Attendance or Permanent Incapacity for Self-Support

Make payments of DIC under a separate award for a child who is over age 18 and
  • attending school, and/or
  • permanently incapable of self-support.
Notes:
  • Make the payment under a separate award, even though
    • the child may be in the custody of a surviving spouse in receipt of DIC benefits, and
    • VA is paying the separate award to the surviving spouse as the child’s custodian under 38 U.S.C. 5502.
  • If VA was paying DIC for the child to a surviving spouse prior to the child’s 18th birthday, the child does not have to submit his/her own application for DIC.
References:  For information on

5.  Handling Notice of an Intent to Begin or Continue School Attendance at a Future Date


Introduction

This topic contains information about the process for handling notice of an intent to begin or continue school attendance at a future date, including

Change Date

September 6, 2018

III.iii.6.B.5.a.Payment of Benefits Based on School Attendance in the Future or When a Child Turns 18

In order to avoid an interruption of benefits, a beneficiary may submit VA Form 21-674 showing that a school child intends to continue attending school

Upon receipt of VA Form 21-674 showing an intent to begin or continue school attendance at a future date,

Exception:  Do not take the award action described in this block earlier than three months before a school child’s 18th birthday.  Follow the instructions in the table below if the date of receipt of a VA Form 21-674 precedes the date of a school child’s 18th birthday by more than three months.
Step
Action
1
Is the date the school child will turn 18 now three months or less in the future (because of claims-processing delays)?
  • If yes, proceed to Step 4.
  • If no, proceed to the next step.
2
Cancel EP 130, if pending.
3
  • Prepare a locally generated letter under EP 400 that instructs the claimant to submit a new VA Form 21-674 when the school child is within three months of his/her 18th birthday.
  • Clear the EP 400 after generating the letter.
  • Disregard the remaining steps in this table.
4
Attempt to contact the claimant by telephone to confirm that the entries the claimant made on VA Form 21-674 are still accurate and current.
Note:  Follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 1.B.1.efor documenting attempts to contact a claimant by telephone.
5
Were attempts to obtain the confirmation referenced in Step 4 successful?
  • If yes,
  • If no,
    • cancel EP 130, if pending
    • prepare a locally generated letter under EP 400 that instructs the claimant to submit a new VA Form 21-674, and
    • clear the EP 400 after generating the letter.
Note:  RO and call center employees may complete and sign VA Form 21-674 on a claimant’s behalf, per M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.A.4.h.

III.iii.6.B.5.b.Confirming a Child Began or Continued Attending School

After taking award action to continue the payment of benefits for a child who intends to begin or continue attending school at a future date, follow the steps in the table below.
Step
Action
1
Send VA Form 21-674b with the decision notice.  Advise the beneficiary
  • to complete the form and return it
    • within 60 days after attendance is supposed to begin, or
    • within 60 days after the child turns 18 (if the child is turning 18 during a school session), and
  • VA will reduce or terminate benefits if it does not receive the form within the 60-day period.
2
Establish a diary under diary code 21, Verify School Attendance, that expires the month after a 60-day period that begins
  • the date the beneficiary indicated (on VA Form 21-674) that school attendance would begin, or
  • on the child’s 18th birthday (if the child is turning 18 during a school session).
3
Did the beneficiary return VA Form 21-674b (or provide information the form requests to one of VA’s NCCs) before the diary referenced in Step 2 expired?
  • If yes,
    • clear the diary established in Step 2 (if it is still pending), and
    • proceed to the next step.
  • If no,
    • clear the 810 work item that was automatically generated when the diary established in Step 2 expired
    • establish EP 130, using the date of the 810 work item as the date of claim
    • add Potential Under/Overpayment as a special issue, and
    • proceed to Step 7
Note:  In lieu of a VA Form 674ba telephone call to or from the beneficiary providing information requested on the form is acceptable.  Document and/or upload into the eFolder all such communication with the beneficiary.
Reference:  For more information on 800 series work items, see
4
Does the VA Form 21-674b contain information (such as a different start date for the school session) that requires an adjustment of the beneficiary’s award?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no,
    • clear an EP 692, and
    • disregard the remaining steps in this table.
5
  • Establish EP 130.
  • If the adjustment referenced in Step 4 will create an overpayment, add Potential Under/Overpayment as a special issue, as well.
Note:  Use the date VA received the VA Form 21-674b as the date of claim when establishing EP 130.
6
Adjust the beneficiary’s award under the pending EP 130 and proceed to Step 14.
7
Under the pending EP 130, suspend payments to or for the child effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share.
8
Determine the effective date of the proposed reduction or discontinuance, using the earlier of the following:
  • the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share
  • first day of the month in which school attendance was scheduled to begin, or
  • the child’s 18th birthday (consider using this date only if VA sent VA Form 21-674b to the beneficiary to request confirmation that his/her child was still attending school when the child turned 18).
Reference:  For more information on the effective date for reducing or discontinuing benefits based on failure to confirm school attendance at a future date, see 38 CFR 3.667(b).
9
Establish EP 600 and add Potential Under/Overpayment as a special issue.
10
Send the beneficiary a notice of proposed adverse action that
11
Did the beneficiary return VA Form 21-674b (or provide the information the form requests to one of VA’s NCCs) within 65 days?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no,
    • discontinue benefits under the EP 600 from the effective date selected in Step 8, and
    • proceed to Step 14.
 Notes:
  • In lieu of a VA Form 674b, a telephone call to or from the beneficiary providing information requested on the form is acceptable.  Document and/or upload into the eFolder all such communication with the beneficiary.
  • If the child was receiving benefits under a separate or apportioned award, simultaneously adjust any other affected award to increase the rate payable to other payees based on termination of the child’s entitlement.
  • Award action that increases benefits to other payees based on the loss of a dependent are both effective and payable from the date of dependency change (without regard to 38 CFR 3.31), because the total award amount was reduced to reflect loss of the school child.
12
Determine whether the child
  • began attending school on the date the beneficiary indicated on the VA Form 21-674 that preceded the VA Form 21-674b, or
  • was still in school as of his/her 18th birthday (if VA requested confirmation of school attendance for this reason).
13
Reinstate or amend (as needed) benefits under the pending EP 600.
14
Notify the beneficiary of the action taken.
Reference:  For information on the elements a decision notice must contain, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 2.B.1.b.

6.  Verifying a Child’s School Attendance


Introduction

This topic contains information about verifying a child’s school attendance, including

Change Date

May 10, 2019

III.iii.6.B.6.a.Certifying School Attendance With VA Form 21-8960-1

At least once each year, VA requires each beneficiary who receives additional benefits for a school child to certify the child is attending school and intends to continue doing so through the date school attendance is scheduled to end.  VA does this by requiring the beneficiary to
Important:  If VA does not receive certification of school attendance, it may discontinue benefits payable to or for the child.
References:  For more information on

III.iii.6.B.6.b.Schedule for Mailing VA Form 21-8960-1

VA automatically generates and mails VA Form 21-8960-1 to beneficiaries who are receiving benefits based on school attendance
  • each March, and/or
  • two months before the date school attendance is scheduled to end, unless the end date is in June.
Concurrent with this action, a diary is automatically established in the corporate record to control for return of the form within 60 days.
Reference:  For more information about diary controls, see the

III.iii.6.B.6.c.  Action to Take When the Hines ITC Is Unable to Issue VA Form 21-8960-1

When the Hines Information Technology Center (ITC) cannot issue VA Form 21-8960-1VA’s claims-processing system generates work item 882H, School Child Verification Letter Not Sent.  When the work item appears in an ROs inventory, the RO must send the beneficiary a VA Form 21-8960-1.
To control for return of the form,
  • establish a future diary under diary code 30, Local Regional Office Special Use, in Share that expires the month after a 60-day period that begins thelater of the following dates:
    • the date the work item was generated, or
    • the date the RO sent the form to the beneficiary, and
  • enter the comment School Child Verification Development in the COMMENT text box.
Reference:  For more information on 800 series work items, see

III.iii.6.B.6.d.Processing VA Form 21-8960-1

Follow the instructions in the table below following receipt of a completed VA Form 21-8960-1.
If VA Form 21-8960-1  indicates …
Then …
  • the child is attending the same school, and
  • the date on which the child plans to stop attending school remains the same
the child has changed schools
  • cancel the diary referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.6.b or c(whichever applies)
  • establish EP 130
  • add Potential Under/Overpayment as a special issue
  • send VA Form 21-674 to the beneficiary, and
  • instruct the beneficiary to complete and return the form to VA within 30 days.
Note:  If the beneficiary fails to respond within 30 days, follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.4.abeginning with Step 4.
the child plans to stop attending school on a different date
  • establish EP 130
  • cancel the diary referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.6.b or c(whichever applies)
  • prepare an amended award to adjust the date on which benefits based on school attendance will end, and
  • send contemporaneous notice to the beneficiary.
Reference:  For more information about providing contemporaneous notice, see M21-1, Part I, 2.D.

III.iii.6.B.6.e.Failure to Certify School Attendance

If a beneficiary fails to return VA Form 21-8960-1 within 60 days, the diary referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.6.b expires (because it was never cleared).  When this occurs, VA’s claims-processing system generates an 800 series work item.
Follow the steps in the table below upon receipt of a work item indicating a beneficiary failed to return VA Form 21-8960-1 within 60 days.
Step
Action
1
Review the claims folder to determine the date of the last communication with VA that showed the child was attending school.
Note:  Accept the most recent communication that
  • confirms the child’s attendance at school, and
  • does not conflict with other evidence in the claims folder.
2
Clear EP 130.
3
Establish EP 600 and add Potential Under/Overpayment as a special issue.
4
Send a notice of proposed adverse action that
Note:  The proposed effective date for the reduction or discontinuance of benefits is the first of the month following the date identified in Step 1.
5
Did the beneficiary return VA Form 21-674 or 21-8960-1 (or provide certification of school attendance to one of VA’s NCCs) within the additional 65-day period?
  • If yes,
    • clear the EP 600 or amend the award under this EP 600 (if information the beneficiary provides necessitates an adjustment), and
    • send a decision notice to the beneficiary.
  • If no,
    • discontinue benefits (under the EP 600) that are based on school attendance from the effective date selected in Step 1, and
    • send a decision notice to the beneficiary.
Reference:  For information on the elements a decision notice must contain, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 2.B.1.b.
Reference:  For more information about work items, see

III.iii.6.B.6.f.Avoiding Concurrent Payment of DEA and Disability or Survivors Benefits

When reviewing VA Forms 21-8960-1, 21-674, or 21-674b, check the corporate record to determine if
  • the Veteran is
    • evaluated as 100-percent disabled, or
    • in receipt of compensation based on individual unemployability, or
  • the beneficiary is receiving benefits as a child in his/her own right.
If any of these conditions apply, follow the steps in the table below to determine if the school child is also receiving DEA under payee 40 through 49.
Step
Action
1
Perform a Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) inquiry from the Share READY screen, using the Veteran’s claim/Social Security number (SSN).
2
Does the child’s name appear in a row on the NUMBER SELECTION screen?
  • If no,
    • pay or continue paying disability or survivor benefits to or for the child, if entitlement otherwise exists, and
    • disregard the remaining steps in the table.
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
3
Double-click on the row with the child’s name in it.
4
Does the BIRLS BENEFICIARY INFORMATION screen show the child has a DEA folder?
  • If no,
    • pay or continue paying disability or survivor benefits to or for the child, if entitlement otherwise exists, and
    • disregard the remaining steps in the table.
  • If yes,
    • note the child’s payee number, and
    • proceed to the next step.
5
Perform a payment history inquiry from the Share READY screen, using the
  • Veteran’s claim number/SSN, and
  • child’s payee number.
6
Does the PAYMENT HISTORY INQUIRY screen show the child is receiving or has received DEA?
  • If no,
    • pay or continue paying disability or survivor benefits to or for the child, if entitlement otherwise exists, and
    • disregard the remaining steps in the table.
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
7
Do the instructions expressed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.2allow for the payment of DEA to the child, with concurrent payment of compensation, pension, or DIC to or for the same child?
  • If no, then follow instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.3.b.
  • If yes, pay or continue paying disability or survivor benefits to or for the child, if entitlement otherwise exists.
Notes:
  • Users may also determine whether a child has received DEA by accessing the M21 screen in BDN.
  • If users rely on the data displayed on the BDN M21 screen to confirm receipt of DEA, they must
    • use the Print Screen keyboard function to save a copy of the screen, and
    • upload the copy into the Veteran’s eFolder.
  • M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.2.d contains instructions for determining whether/when to adjust an award to or for a child in receipt of DEA.
Reference:  For more information about using BIRLS and Share, see the Share User Guide.

7.  Direct Payment of Benefits to Certain School Children


Introduction

This topic contains information about the direct payment of benefits to certain school children, including

Change Date

May 10, 2019

III.iii.6.B.7.a.Payment of Benefits to a School Child After the Age of Majority

If VA is paying benefits to a child through a fiduciary (to include a parent who is acting as the child’s custodian under 38 U.S.C. 5502solely because the child is a minor38 CFR 13.30 requires VA to start paying benefits directly to the child if he/she
  • has reached the age of majority, and
  • is attending school.
Important:  This policy also applies to a school child who is receiving DIC based on school attendance under the provisions of M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.4.f.
Note:  The “age of majority”
  • is the age at which an individual is legally considered an adult, and
  • varies by State.
Reference:  For more information about the age of majority in each State and territory, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 9.C.3.c.

III.iii.6.B.7.b.Information Required to Pay Benefits Directly to a Child

As stated in M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 9.C.3.b, when an RO initially awards benefits to a minor child through a fiduciary (custodian/guardian), it concurrently establishes a diary that will expire before the child reaches the age of majority.
Upon expiration of the diary, follow the steps in the table below to determine whether the child is entitled to the direct payment of benefits based on school attendance.
Step
Action
1
Send a locally generated letter to the address of the child’s fiduciary that asks the child to provide the following to VA within 60 days:
  • the child’s current mailing address, and
  • verification that he/she
    • remains unmarried, and
    • is still attending school.
2
Establish EP 130 to control for a response from the child and addPotential Under/Overpayment as a special issue.
3
Did the child provide the information requested in Step 1 within 60 days?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no, proceed to Step 6.
4
Is the child on an award with another child or children?
  • If yes, proceed to Step 5.
  • If no,
    • ask the fiduciary hub of jurisdiction (by e-mail) to
      • use the CHANGE OF FIDUCIARY (CFID) command on the Share READY screen to replace the name of the fiduciary with the child’s name as payee, and
      • enter 000 in the FIDUCIARY FILE LOCATION field to remove the principal guardianship folder (PGF) location
    • document the reason for asking the fiduciary hub to make the requested change by entering a note in Modern Awards Processing – Development or VBMS, and
    • proceed to the next step after the fiduciary hub confirms it has taken the requested action.
Rationale:  Removing the PGF location prevents the issuance of unnecessary fiduciary messages, such as a notice of rejection based on a user’s failure to change an address using the CFID command.
References:  For information about
5
  • Authorize direct payment to the child, under EP 130, effective the earlier of the following:
    • the first of the month in which the child reached the age of majority, or
    • the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share, if such payment will be received on or after the child reaches the age of majority.
  • Send a decision notice to the school child.
  • Disregard the remaining steps in this table.
Reference:  For information about VA’s authority to make direct payments to a child who has reached the age of majority, see
6
Clear EP 130.
7
Send a notice of proposed adverse action that
  • contains the elements in M21-1, Part I, 2.B.2, and
  • informs the beneficiary that he/she must return the completed form within 60 days or benefits will be discontinued.
Note:  The proposed effective date for the discontinuance of benefits is the later of the following:
  • the date the child turns 18, or
  • the first of the month following the month in which the evidence of record confirms the child last attended school.
8
Establish EP 600 and add Potential Under/Overpayment as a special issue.
9
Did the child provide the information requested within the additional 65-day period?
  • If yes, go back to Step 4.
  • If no,
    • suspend the award effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share, and
    • send notice of the action taken to the child.
Reference:  For information on the elements a decision notice must contain, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 2.B.1.b.
10
The table below describes the actions an RO must take after suspending benefits because a child failed to provide the information it requested in Step 1.
If the child …
Then …
does not provide the information within six months of the date of suspension
discontinue the child’s award under EP 130 effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share.
Note:  VA’s claims-processing system alerts the RO that the child’s award has been in a suspended status for six months by establishing an 800 series work item with a similar message.
Reference:  For more information about work items, see
provides the informationwithin one year of the date the RO last requested it
follow the instructions in Step 4.
Important:  Resume payments to the child if
  • he/she provided the requested information before VA discontinued his/her award, and
  • the child was not on an award with another child or children.
provides the information one year or more afterthe RO requested it.
follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.1.c.

III.iii.6.B.7.c.  Authority to Sign VA Form 21-674

Use the table below to determine who has authority to sign VA Form 21-674.
If …
And …
Then authority to signVA Form 21-674 resides with the …
a Veteran is receiving benefits for a child as his/her dependent
Veteran.
a child is eligible for
  • benefits under an apportioned award, or
  • DIC
the child has reached the age of majority
child.
a surviving spouse is receiving survivors pension for a child
surviving spouse.
VA is paying benefits to a child through a fiduciary
the child has not reached the age of majority
fiduciary.
a surviving spouse is receiving DIC for the child
surviving spouse.
Note:  A claimant’s representative (power of attorney or employee of a Veterans service organization), if recognized by VA, may sign and submit VA Form 21-674 to VA on a claimant’s behalf.
References:  For more information on

8.  Claims for Disability or Survivors Benefits From or for a Child Who is Eligible for Education Benefits


Introduction

This topic contains information about claims for disability or survivors benefits from or for a child who is eligible for education benefits, including


Change Date

December 11, 2015

III.iii.6.B.8.a.Finality of an Election of DEA or Education Benefits Under the Fry Scholarship

An election to receive DEA or education benefits under the Fry Scholarship is final.  Once VA pays either of the education benefits to a child, VA may not pay disability or survivors benefits to or for the same child for any period subsequent to the effective date of the first payment of education benefits.
Exception:  A child who is under the age of 18 or permanently incapable of self-support may be able to reelect disability or survivors benefits after electing education benefits if
  • the child has two Veteran-parents in the same parental line, and
  • both parents died prior to June 9, 1960.
References:  For more information about

III.iii.6.B.8.b. Determining Whether VA Has Paid DEA and the Effective Date of the Award

Follow the steps in the table below following receipt of a claim for disability or survivors benefits from or for a child who is
  • over the age of 18
  • attending school, and
  • eligible for DEA benefits.
Step
Action
1
Determine whether VA has ever paid DEA to the child by following the steps in the table in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.6.f.
2
Has VA ever paid DEA to the child?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no,
    • pay disability or survivors benefits to or for the child if entitlement otherwise exists, and
    • take no further action.
3
Determine which RPO has jurisdiction over the child’s DEA folder by looking in the CURRENT LOCATION field on the BIRLS BENEFICIARY INFORMATION screen (as described in Step 4 of the table in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 6.B.6.f).
4
Submit a request to the RPO of jurisdiction for the effective date of the first payment of DEA to the child.
Note:  Submit the request using the means below, in the order presented, until contact is successful:
  • e-mail
  • telephone, and
  • letter.
References:  For information on the
5
Following receipt of a response from the RPO, pay disability or survivors benefits to or for the child (if entitlement otherwise exists) only for those periods of school attendance that precede the effective date of the first DEA award.
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