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M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, Chapter 4, Section E – Children With Two Veteran-Parents

Overview


In This Section

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

1.  Determining Whether VA May Pay More Than One Benefit to or for a Child With Two Veteran-Parents


Introduction

This topic contains instructions for determining whether VA may pay more than one benefit to or for a child with two Veteran-parents, including

Change Date

January 21, 2016

III.v.4.E.1.a.  Definition:  Parents in the Same Parental Line

Parents in the same parental line refers to Veteran-parents of the same gender (both male or both female) that are not, nor ever have been, married to one another.  This includes
  • biological parents
  • adoptive parents, and
  • stepparents.
Examples:
  • A Veteran-father and a Veteran-mother are not in the same parental line.
  • Two female Veterans that are married to one another are not in the same parental line.

III.v.4.E.1.b.  Concurrent Payment of Separate Disability and/or Survivors Benefits to or for a Child With Two Veteran-Parents

If a child has more than one Veteran-parent, and the parents are not in the same parental line, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may concurrently pay separate disability and/or survivors benefits to or for the child based on the service of each Veteran-parent.
If a child has more than one Veteran-parent in the same parental line, follow the instructions in the table below to determine whether VA may concurrently pay separate disability and/or survivors benefits to or for the child based on the service of each Veteran-parent.
If …
And …
Then …
one or both parents in the same parental line are still living
VA may concurrently pay separate disability and/or survivors benefits to or for the child based on the service of each Veteran-parent.
both parents in the same parental line are deceased
both parents died prior to June 9, 1960
  • effective January 1, 1957, 38 CFR 3.659 and 38 CFR 3.703 prohibit the concurrent payment of
    • death compensation or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for the child based on the death of one Veteran-parent, and
    • DIC to or for the same child based on the death of the other Veteran-parent, and
  • effective June 9, 1960, 38 CFR 3.659prohibits the concurrent payment of separate survivors benefits  (death compensation, DIC, and/or Survivors Pension) to or for the child based on the service of each Veteran-parent.
one or both parents died on or after June 9, 1960
38 CFR 3.659 prohibits the concurrent payment of separate survivors benefits to or for the child based on the service of each Veteran-parent.
Important:
  • If a child is entitled to more than one survivors benefit, but concurrent payment is prohibited, the child may reelect between such benefits without limitation.
  • See M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.1.c if a child with two Veteran-parents is entitled to Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA).

III.v.4.E.1.c.  Concurrent Payment of DEA and Disability and/or Survivors Benefits to or for a Child With Two Veteran-Parents

Use the information in the table below to determine whether VA may pay education benefits to a child while concurrently paying disability and/or survivors benefits to or for the same child based on the service of more than one Veteran-parent.
Note:  “Education benefits,” for the purpose of this block, refers to
If the child is …
Then …
  • under age 18, or
  • incapableof self-support
VA may pay education benefits to the child while concurrently paying disability and/or survivors benefits to or for the same child to the extent provided in M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.1.b.
  • age 18 or older, and
  • capable of self-support
the child’s receipt of education benefits precludes further payment of disability or survivors benefits to or for the child.
Important:  Once a child receives his/her first payment of education benefits (regardless of age), the election of education benefits becomes final, unless VA paid the education benefit in error.  This means that at the point in time when the concurrent payment of education benefits and disability and/or survivors benefits is prohibited (at age 18, unless the child is incapable of self-support),
  • VA must stop the payment of disability and/or survivors benefits, and
  • the child may never reelect disability and/or survivors benefits.
References:  For more information about

2.  Processing an Election Involving a Child With Two Veteran-Parents in the Same Parental Line


Introduction

This topic contains instructions for processing an election involving a child with two Veteran-parents in the same parental line, including

Change Date

December 14, 2018

III.v.4.E.2.a.  Acceptable Means of Electing One Benefit Over Another

Submission of a signed statement by one of the following individuals is an acceptable means for electing one benefit over another if the payment of more than one VA benefit to or for a child, based on the service of two Veteran-parents in the same parental line, is prohibited:
  • the child, if the child is eligible to receive benefit payments directly, or
  • a parent, guardian, or custodian (whichever applies), if the child is
    • a minor, or
    • incompetent for VA purposes.

III.v.4.E.2.b.  Notice of the Right to Elect One Benefit Over Another

When the necessity of an election of one benefit arises because a child has two Veteran-parents in the same parental line, notify the child (or his/her parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever applies)
  • of the right of election (and reelection, if applicable), and
  • the rates payable under each benefit to which eligibility exists.
If a benefit arising from the service of one parent is clearly more advantageous than the benefit arising from the service of the other parent,
  • award the benefit that is the most advantageous without waiting for a response to the notice referenced in the first paragraph of this block, and
  • inform the child (or his/her parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever applies) in the decision notice that
    • VA has awarded the greater benefit, and
    • the right to elect the other benefit still exists.

III.v.4.E.2.c.  Effective Date of Payment of an Elected Benefit That Is Greater Than the Prior Benefit

If VA receives an election of a greater benefit from a child (or his/her parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever applies) within one year of the date VA notified the child of his/her right to an election, the effective date of the election is the date entitlement to the elected benefit arose.  Otherwise, the effective date is the date VA received the election.
Important:  Apply the provisions of 38 CFR 3.31 to the effective date of an election to arrive at the effective date of payment of the newly elected benefit.
Reference:  For more information about applying the provisions of 38 CFR 3.31, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 2.A.2.b.

III.v.4.E.2.d.  Effective Date of Payment of an Elected Benefit That Is Less Than the Prior Benefit

If VA receives an election of a lesser benefit from a child (or his/her parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever applies) the effective date of payment of the lesser benefit is the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share.

III.v.4.E.2.e.  Processing a Child’s Election of Benefits Under a Different Veteran-Parent in the Same Parental Line

Follow the instructions in the table below when
  • VA is paying survivors benefits to or for a child based on the service of one of two deceased Veteran-parents in the same parental line, and
  • the child (or his/her parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever applies) elects to receive survivors benefits based on the service of the otherVeteran-parent.
Step
Action
1
Is the child currently on a surviving spouse’s award or receiving an apportionment of a surviving spouse’s award?
Reference:  For more information about the effect of a child’s election on a surviving spouse’s entitlement, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.3.b.
2
Is VA paying benefits to or for another child or children based on the service of the same Veteran under whom VA is currently paying benefits to or for the child that is making the election?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no, proceed to Step 4.
3
Will the child’s election change the rate payable to the other child or children referenced in Step 2?
Reference:  For more information about the effect of a child’s election on other children to or for whom VA is paying benefits based on the service of the same Veteran, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.3.c.
4
Discontinue the child’s current award effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share.
5
Did the child elect a benefit that is greater than the benefit he/she was receiving prior to the election?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no,
    • award the newly elected benefit effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share, and
    • proceed to Step 8.
6
  • Pay benefits to the child, based on his/her election, from the appropriate effective date.
  • Create an offset against the current award so that, between the effective date of the new award and the day preceding the effective date referenced in Step 4, VA pays the child only the difference between the prior benefit and the newly elected benefit.
Reference:  Follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.2.c for assigning an appropriate effective date of payment.
7
Follow the instructions in the table below.
If the new award is processed in …
Then …
the Veterans Service Network (VETSNET)
annotate the award with the following text:
Award is subject to payments for this child under Payee # [Insert payee number.] in XC [Insert deceased Veteran’s claims folder number.]from [Insert the effective date of the new award.] to the first of the month following the month for which VA last paid benefits to or for the child.
the Veterans Benefits Management System – Awards (VBMS-A)
insert the text provided in the above cell in the OTHER PRINT REMARKS field on the PRINT REMARKS screen.
8
Notify the child (or his/her parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever applies) of the action taken.
References:  For more information about

III.v.4.E.2.f.  Example:  Processing a Child’s Election of Benefits Under a Different Veteran-Parent in the Same Parental Line

This block provides an example of the procedure described in M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.2.e.
Scenario:
  • Jim is the sole survivor of Veteran A, who died many years ago.
  • Jim is currently receiving survivors benefits based on Veteran A’s service.
  • Jim is also a stepchild of Veteran B, who died March 14, 2014.
  • On May 15, 2014, VA notified Jim of his right to elect survivors benefits based on the service of Veteran B.
  • VA received Jim’s claim for an election of benefits under Veteran B on August 13, 2015.
  • As of August 13, 2015, VA was paying survivors benefits to Jim in the amount of $150 per month.
  • The amount of benefits to which Jim is entitled under Veteran B is $530.00 per month as of August 13, 2015.
  • The regional office processes Jim’s election on October 5, 2015.
Actions:
  • Discontinue Jim’s current award effective October 1, 2015.
  • Award benefits to Jim under Veteran B in the amount of $380 per month ($530.00 – $150.00) from September 1, 2015.  Increase the award to $530.00 per month effective October 1, 2015.

3.  Effect of a Child’s Elections on Other Beneficiaries’ Entitlement


Introduction

This topic contains information on the effect of a child’s election on other beneficiaries’ entitlement, including

Change Date

January 21, 2016

III.v.4.E.3.a.  General Information on the Effect of a Child’s Election on Other Beneficiaries

If, while VA is paying survivors benefits to or for a child based on the service of one of two deceased Veteran-parents in the same parental line, the child (or his/her parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever applies) elects to receive survivors benefits based on the service of the other Veteran-parent, the child’s election may affect the rates payable to other beneficiaries (a surviving spouse and/or other children) that are entitled to benefits based on the service of the Veteran-parents.
The effect of a child’s election on the rates payable to other beneficiaries may be determined by calculating the effect the child’s election has on the child’s entitlement to receive his/her share in the benefits payable to other beneficiaries.
References:  For more information on the effect of a child’s election on

III.v.4.E.3.b.  Effect of a Child’s Election on a Surviving Spouse’s Entitlement

If a surviving spouse was receiving benefits for the child referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.3.a prior to the child’s election of benefits under a different Veteran-parent, follow the instructions in the table below to determine the surviving spouse’s post-election entitlement.
If the surviving spouse is receiving …
Then …
DIC
determine the additional amount payable under 38 U.S.C. 1311(b) as though the child (under age 18) did not exist.
Survivors Pension
determine the surviving spouse’s entitlement as if the child did not exist.
Important:  The income limit will drop and the surviving spouse’s countable income might change as a result of this action.
References:  For more information about

III.v.4.E.3.c.  Effect of a Child’s Election on Another Child’s or Other Children’s Entitlement

If VA was paying benefits to or for another child or other children based on the service of the same Veteran under whom the child referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.3.a was receiving benefits prior to his/her election, determine the post-election entitlement of the remaining child or children as if the child that made the election does not exist.

Note:  If the benefit VA was paying the child prior to his/her election was DIC, and VA was paying DIC to a surviving spouse based on the same Veteran’s death, the child’s election will have no effect on other children that are

  • over the age of 18, and
  • also receiving DIC based on the Veteran’s death.

Reference:  For information about making award adjustments based on the policy expressed in this block, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.4.c.


4.  Adjusting the Awards of Other Beneficiaries When a Child Elects Benefits Under a Different Veteran-Parent


Introduction

This topic contains information on adjusting the awards of other beneficiaries when a child elects benefits under a different Veteran-parent, including

Change Date

December 14, 2018

III.v.4.E.4.a.  Reducing or Discontinuing a Surviving Spouse’s Award Because of a Child’s Election of Benefits Under a Different Veteran-Parent

Follow the instructions in the table below if the election of a child with two Veteran-parents in the same parental line will require a reduction in or discontinuance of benefits VA is paying to a surviving spouse.
Examples:  A child’s election of benefits under a different Veteran-parent will require a
  • reduction in the benefits VA is paying to a surviving spouse if VA is paying the surviving spouse additional benefits for the child, or
  • discontinuance of benefits if
    • VA is paying Survivors Pension to a surviving spouse, and
    • removal of the child from the surviving spouse’s award reduces the maximum annual pension rate to an amount that is less than the surviving spouse’s countable income.
Step
Action
1
Reduce or discontinue the surviving spouse’s award effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share.
2
Follow the instructions in the table below.
If the award was adjusted in …
Then …
VETSNET
annotate the award with the following text:
Benefits on account of child [Insert the child’s name.] barred by election of[Insert the type of benefit.] in XC[Insert the claims folder number of the deceased Veteran under whom the child has elected benefits.],[Insert the deceased Veteran’s name.].
VBMS-A
insert the text provided in the above cell in the OTHER PRINT REMARKS field on the PRINT REMARKS screen.
3
  • Pay benefits to the child, based on his/her election, from the appropriate effective date.
  • Create an offset against the child’s award so that, between the effective date of the new award and the day preceding the effective date referenced in Step 1, VA pays the child only the difference between
    • the amount of benefits VA paid the surviving spousesolely because the child was on his/her award and
    • the amount of the child’s newly elected benefit.
Reference:  Follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.2.c for assigning an appropriate effective date of payment under the circumstances described in this block.
4
Follow the instructions in the table below.
If the child’s award was adjusted in …
Then …
VETSNET
annotate the award with the following text:
Award is subject to payments for this child under payee # [Insert the child’s payee number under the surviving spouse’s award.] in XC[Insert the claims folder number of the deceased Veteran under whom the surviving spouse is/was entitled to benefits.] from [Insert the effective date of the child’s new award (from Step 3).] to the first of the month following the month for which VA last paid benefits to the surviving spouse.
VBMS-A
insert the text provided in the above cell in the OTHER PRINT REMARKS field on the PRINT REMARKS screen.
5
Notify the surviving spouse and the child (or his/her parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever applies) of the actions taken.

III.v.4.E.4.b.  Increasing a Surviving Spouse’s Award Because of a Child’s Election of Benefits Under a Different Veteran-Parent

Follow the instructions in the table below if a surviving spouse’s award will increasebecause
  • a child on the surviving spouse’s award elects to receive benefits based on the service of a different Veteran-parent in the same parental line, and
  • the child is receiving an apportionment from the surviving spouse’s award that is greater than the additional benefits to which the surviving spouse is entitled for the child.
Step
Action
1
Discontinue the child’s apportionment effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share.
2
Remove the child from the surviving spouse’s award and pay the overall increase in benefits (because of the discontinued apportionment) effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share.
3
Follow the instructions in the table below.
If the surviving spouse’s award was adjusted in …
Then …
VETSNET
annotate the award with the following text:
Benefits on account of child [Insert the child’s name.] barred by election of [Insert the type of benefit.] in XC[Insert the claims folder number of the deceased Veteran under whom the child has elected benefits.],[Insert the deceased Veteran’s name.].
VBMS-A
insert the text provided in the above cell in the OTHER PRINT REMARKS field on the PRINT REMARKS screen.
4
Is the benefit the child elected greater than the amount of the apportionment VA was paying him/her?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no,
    • award the newly elected benefit effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share, and
    • proceed to Step 7.
5
  • Pay benefits to the child, based on his/her election, from an effective date that complies with the policy expressed inM21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.2.c.
  • Create an offset against the child’s award so that, between the effective date of the new award and the day preceding the effective date referenced in Step 2, VA pays the child only the difference between
    • the amount of the child’s apportionment, and
    • the amount of the child’s newly elected benefit.
6
Follow the instructions in the table below.
If the child’s award was adjusted in …
Then …
VETSNET
annotate the award with the following text:
Subject to payments for this child under payee # [Insert the child’s payee number under the surviving spouse’s award.] in XC [Insert the claims folder number of the deceased Veteran under whom the surviving spouse is entitled to benefits.] from [Insert the effective date of the child’s new award (from Step 4).] to the first of the month following the month for which VA last paid benefits to the surviving spouse.
VBMS-A
insert the text provided in the above cell in the OTHER PRINT REMARKS field on the PRINT REMARKS screen.
7
Notify the surviving spouse and the child (or his/her parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever applies) of the actions taken.

III.v.4.E.4.c.  Increasing the Awards of Other Children Because of a Child’s Election of Benefits Under a Different Veteran-Parent

Follow the instructions in the table below if the discontinuation of a child’s award (because the child elected to receive benefits based on the service of a different Veteran-parent in the same parental line) will result in an increase in benefits to another child or other children.
Step
Action
1
Discontinue the award to or for the child that made the election effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share.
2
Process separate amended awards for any child(ren) that is(are) entitled to increased benefits because the child with two Veteran-parents in the same parental line elected to receive benefits under a different Veteran-parent.
Note:  The proper effective date for payment of the increased rates is the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share.
3
Follow the instructions in the table below.
If the child(ren)’s award(s) was(were) adjusted in …
Then …
VETSNET
annotate each award for the child(ren) referenced in Step 2 with the following text:
Benefits on account of child [Insert the name of the child that elected benefits under a different Veteran-parent.] barred by election of [Insert the type of benefit.] in XC [Insert the claims folder number of the deceased Veteran under whom the child has elected benefits.][Insert the deceased Veteran’s name.].
VBMS-A
insert the text provided in the above cell in the OTHER PRINT REMARKS field on the PRINT REMARKS screen.
4
Is the benefit the child elected greater than the benefit VA was paying to or for the child prior to the election?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no,
    • award the newly elected benefit effective the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share, and
    • proceed to Step 6.
5
  • Pay benefits to the child, based on his/her election, from an effective date that complies with the policy expressed inM21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 4.E.2.c.
  • Create an offset against the current award so that, between the effective date of the new award and the day preceding the effective date referenced in Step 1, VA pays the child only the difference between the prior benefit and the newly elected benefit.
6
Notify the children referenced in this block (or their parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever applies) of the actions taken.

III.v.4.E.4.d.  Example:  Award Adjustments Involving a Surviving Spouse and a Child Who Elected Benefits Under a Different Veteran-Parent

Background:
  • A Veteran died on April 21, 2010, leaving behind a spouse and two biological children, Jane and David.
  • The surviving spouse and children are entitled to DIC because the Veteran’s death was service-connected (SC).
  • Jane is in the custody of her stepfather, who is also a Veteran.  She receives an apportionment of DIC from the surviving spouse.
Scenario:
  • Jane’s stepfather dies of an SC death on January 2, 2013, leaving Jane as the sole survivor.
  • As of January 2, 2013, Jane’s apportionment was $301.00 per month.
  • DIC in the amount of $513.00 is payable to Jane based on her stepfather’s death.
  • On February 20, 2013, VA receives from Jane a claim for entitlement to DIC based on her stepfather’s death.
  • VA takes award action based on Jane’s election of benefits under her stepfather on March 5, 2013.
Results:
  • VA discontinues Jane’s apportionment (and amends the surviving spouse’s award accordingly), effective March 1, 2013.
  • VA awards DIC to Jane (based on the death of her stepfather) in the amount of $212.00 per month ($513.00 minus $301.00) effective February 1, 2013.
  • VA increases the monthly rate of DIC to $513.00, effective March 1, 2013.
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