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M21-1, Part IV, Subpart iii, Chapter 3, Section A – Initial Awards to Dependents

Overview


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:

1.  General Information on Initial Awards to Dependents


Introduction

This topic contains information on initial awards to dependents, including

Change Date

November 20, 2015

IV.iii.3.A.1.a.  Determining the Effective Date When Death Occurs During Service

Use the following references to determine the appropriate effective date of an award when death occurs during service:

IV.iii.3.A.1.b.  Handling Claims When All Dependents Do Not Apply

Generally, award action on a claim filed by a surviving spouse will not be delayed if there is a child for whom a claim has not been filed; nor, will a claim filed by a child be delayed if a surviving spouse has not filed a claim.
Follow the steps in the table below to control claims in which not all dependents apply.
Step
Action
1
Make any necessary attempts to locate additional dependent(s) for the purpose of furnishing an application.
2
Pay the dependent that filed a claim at the same rate as if all dependents had filed a claim.
3
If a surviving spouse applies, withhold apportioned shares for any children who have not filed a claim; if the spouse has not applied, award an apportioned share to the child who filed the claim.
4
Maintain an appropriate control for retroactive adjustment if claims are not received at the expiration of the period for which retroactive benefits may be awarded.
5
At the expiration of the control, and if no other dependent has filed a claim, amend the running award to authorize the full rate from the date benefits were first awarded.
Reference:  For more information on awards where not all dependents apply, see38 CFR 3.107.

IV.iii.3.A.1.c.  Handling Claims
in Which the Claimant Is Awarded Less
Than the Full
Rate

If a case is encountered in which the claimant was awarded less than the full rate and the additional claimant, who was receiving an apportioned share, is no longer entitled to benefits
  • adjust the claim without regard to the effective date requirements of 38 CFR 3.114(a), and
  • authorize the retroactive increase effective as of the commencing date of the award, but not prior to December 1, 1962.
Note:  If the payee has died, benefits may be adjusted and payable as an accrued benefit.
Reference:  For more information on accrued benefits, see

2.  Claims for Social Security Survivors’ Benefits

 


Change Date

July 12, 2015

IV.iii.3.A.2.a.  Processing Form SSA-24

Follow the instructions in the table below upon receipt of Form SSA-24, Application for Survivors Benefits, as an attachment to
Step
Action
1
Stamp the date of receipt on both forms.
2
Enter the correct Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) file number in Block 12 ofForm SSA-24.
3
Fax or mail Form SSA-24 to the appropriate Social Security Administration (SSA) office, according to the instructions in the table below.
Note:  There is no need to prepare a cover letter for the form or complete Blocks 20 and 21 of the form.
If the applicant …
Then …
entered a Social Security number (SSN) in Block 3 of Form SSA-24
fax the form to the SSA program service center of jurisdiction, using information from the table in
Important:  The first three-digits of the SSN in Block 3 of Form SSA-24 represent the “account number” referenced in the column heading of the table.
did not enter an SSN in Block 3 of Form SSA-24
mail the form to the nearest SSA field office.
Note:  Use the SSA Office Locator to identify the nearest SSA field office and its address.
Exception:  Manila Regional Office employees should follow locally established procedures for referring Form SSA-24 to the SSA activity located in that office.

 3.  Determining the Effective Date Based on Claims Filed With SSA


Introduction


Change Date

March 22, 2019

IV.iii.3.A.3.a.  Recognition of Applications to SSA as Applications to VA

Under 38 CFR 3.153, consider an application for survivors’ benefits filed as a result of the death of a Veteran with SSA on or after January 1, 1957, as a claim for VA survivors benefits, even if VA Form 21-4182, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or Death Pension is not received by VA.
References:  For more information on

IV.iii.3.A.3.b.  Processing VA Form 21-4182
If SSA receives VA Form 21-4182 as a supplemental attachment to an application for Social Security benefits, SSA personnel forward the form to VA.
Note:  If received before March 24, 2015, VA accepts the form as a formal but incomplete claim for survivors benefits.
Follow the instructions in the table below upon receipt of VA Form 21-4182.
Step
Action
1
Has the claimant already submitted a completed and signed VA Form 21P-534 or VA Form 21P-535?
  • If yes, proceed to Step 3.
  • If no, send to the claimant
    • VA Form
      • 21P-534 (if the claimant is a surviving spouse or child), or
      •  21P-535 (if the claimant is a surviving parent), and
    • proceed to Step 2.
2
When the claimant returns VA Form 21P-534 or VA Form 21P-535, establish the claim with the date of claim that SSA received the VA Form 21-4182.
3
Is a claim for survivors benefits from the claimant already pending?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no, proceed to Step 5.
4
Is the date SSA received the VA Form 21-4182 prior to the date VA received the pending claim for survivors benefits?
  • If yes,
    • change the date of claim of the pending end product (EP) to the date SSA received the form, and
    • continue to process the claim normally.
  • If no, continue to process the claim normally.
5
Was the prior claim for entitlement to survivors benefits granted?
  • If yes, proceed to the next step.
  • If no, proceed no further.
6
Is an earlier effective date warranted based on the date SSAreceived the VA Form 21-4182?
  • If yes, proceed to Step 7.
  • If no, proceed no further.
7
Establish the appropriate EP, using the date SSA received the form as the date of claim.

References:  For information about

8
Is development action required?
  • If yes, refer the claim for development action.
  • If no, refer the claim to the appropriate decision maker (rating activity if a rating decision is required; authorization activity if no rating decision is required).

IV.iii.3.A.3.c.  Action to Take if VA Form 21-4182 Is Not Received Prior to Taking Award Action

Request verification of the date that the application was filed with SSA from the appropriate Social Security payment center if
  • VA Form 21-4182 has not been received at the time award action is taken, and
  • it appears that an earlier effective date may be established on the basis of an application filed with SSA.
Note:  If necessary, adjust the effective date of the award upon receipt of VA Form 21-4182.

IV.iii.3.A.3.d.  Considering Entitlement to Benefits From an Earlier Effective Date

The table below describes the process for determining whether benefits may be awarded from an earlier effective date.
Stage
Action
1
Consider entitlement to benefits from an earlier effective date when
  • benefits are awarded from the date of receipt of claim which was filed more than one year after the date of the Veteran’s death, and
  • there is no indication in the claims folder as to whether or not a claim for survivors’ benefits was filed with SSA.
2
Contact the claimant to inform him/her of the possibility of assignment of an earlier effective date if a claim for SSA benefits was filed prior to the claim for VA benefits.
3
If the claimant responds, indicating that an application was filed with SSA prior to the VA claim
  • ask the appropriate Social Security payment center to verify in writing the date the application was filed with that agency, or
  • verify the information via Share.
4
Adjust the effective date of the award, if otherwise in order, upon receipt of information from SSA establishing the date the SSA application/claim was received.

4.  Determining the Effective Date When the Veteran Dies After Separation From Service


Change Date

November 20, 2015

IV.iii.3.A.4.a.  Determining the Effective Date for DIC

Use the chart below to determine the effective date of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
If the …
Then the effective date is the …
  • date of death is before October 1, 1982, and
  • claim is received within one year of death
first day of the month of death.
  • date of death is before October 1, 1982, and
  • claim is not received within one year of death
date of receipt of claim.

 

 

  • date of death is on or after October 1, 1982
  • claim is received within one year of death, and
  • Veteran’s rate for the month of death (MOD) is equal to or greater than the monthly DIC benefit rate
first day of the month of death.
  • date of death is on or after October 1, 1982
  • the claim is received within one year of death, and
  • Veteran’s rate for the MOD is less than the monthly DIC rate
first day of the month following death.
  • date of death is on or after October 1, 1982, and
  • claim is not received within one year of death
date of receipt of claim.
  • date of death is on or after January 1, 1997, and
  • claim is received within one year of death
first day of the month of death.
  • date of death is on or after January 1, 1997, and
  • claim is not received within one year of death
date of receipt of claim.

5.  Determining the Surviving Spouse’s Entitlement to Benefits for the MOD


Introduction


Change Date

May 2, 2018

IV.iii.3.A.5.a.  Death Occurred on or After December 1, 1962
For historical purposes, if the Veteran died on or after December 1, 1962, but before October 1, 1982, payment is made to the surviving spouse for the MOD under 38 CFR 3.20(a).
If the Veteran was receiving, or was entitled to receive, disability compensation or pension, or Medal of Honor Pension, then the rate payable for the MOD is whichever of the following is greater:
  • the monthly rate of the specific survivors benefit awarded, or
  • the full rate that would have been payable to the Veteran.
Note:  The full rate payable to the Veteran includes
  • additional compensation for dependents
  • special monthly compensation
  • allowance for aid and attendance and housebound status
  • Medal of Honor Pension, and
  • any apportioned shares.

IV.iii.3.A.5.b.  Death Occurred on or After October 1, 1982

For historical purposes, if the Veteran died on or after October 1, 1982, but before January 1, 1997, payment is made to the surviving spouse for the MOD under 38 CFR 3.20(b).
Example:  A surviving spouse’s entitlement to survivors benefits has been established.  The claim for benefits was received within one year of the Veteran’s death.  The surviving spouse’s rate of payment is less than the Veteran’s rate for the MOD.
Result:  The surviving spouse is eligible for the Veteran’s rate for the MOD under38 CFR 3.20(b).  Payment for the MOD is made on the original award.
Use the table below to determine the surviving spouse’s benefit rate for the MOD.
If the Veteran …
Then the surviving spouse is …
died on or after October 1, 1982
entitled to payment for the MOD only if the Veteran’s rate for the month of death is greater than the monthly rate of Survivors Pension or DIC to which the surviving spouse is entitled.
Note:  If payments of Survivors Pension or DIC are greater than the Veteran’s MOD, commence survivors benefits the first day of the month following death.
died on or after October 1, 1982

  • was receiving military retired pay, and
  • would have been awarded the available difference for the month of death pending a total waiver of retired pay
not entitled to payment for the MOD, if the Veteran’s net VA benefit would have been less that the rate payable to the surviving spouse in his/her own right, even though the Veteran’s gross entitlement to VA benefits might have exceeded the surviving spouse’s rate.
Note:  For historical purposes for Veterans who died on or after October 1, 1982, but before January 1, 1997, if, after receiving payment under 38 CFR 3.20(c), the surviving spouse becomes entitled to death benefits from the date of the Veteran’s death at a rate higher than the amount paid under 38 CFR 3.20(c)
  • withhold the amount paid under 38 CFR 3.20(c) from the date of entitlement under type 1 withholding, and
  • suppress the system-generated award letter, if applicable, and annotate the award,“[Amount] withheld to recover payment made under 38 CFR 3.20(c).”

IV.iii.3.A.5.c.  Death Occurred on or After January 1, 1997

If the Veteran died on or after January 1, 1997, entitlement to payment for the Veteran’s MOD will be paid to the surviving spouse regardless of the Survivors Pension or DIC rate under 38 CFR 3.20(c).
Notes:
  • A claim for MOD is not required and payment can be made as long as evidence establishes the claimant’s relationship to the Veteran.
  • In order to establish dependency for MOD entitlement, VA needs the surviving spouse’s name, date of birth, SSN, and address.

IV.iii.3.A.5.d.  Determining Surviving Spouse’s Entitlement Rate

For instructions on how to initiate the appropriate payment to the surviving spouse, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 8.B.
Note:  Per change in Public Law 112-154, if the Veteran’s rate for the MOD is later adjusted based on accrued benefits, prepare an amended award to pay the difference to the surviving spouse.
Reference:  For more information on the MOD payment, see 38 U.S.C. 5310.

IV.iii.3.A.5.e.  Determining Award When Apportionment Is Required
If the surviving spouse is entitled to the Veteran’s disability rate for the MOD, and the award is to be apportioned, then the
  • child’s apportioned share for the MOD is the same apportioned rate payable to the child for the month after the MOD, based on the recurring survivors benefit rate, and
  • the surviving spouse’s apportioned share for the MOD is the difference between the Veteran’s disability rate and the child’s apportioned share.

IV.iii.3.A.5.f.  What Constitutes a MOD Claim

Consider any communication from the surviving spouse requesting the Veteran’s benefit for the MOD as a claim for payment for the MOD under 38 U.S.C. 5101.
Notes:

IV.iii.3.A.5.g.  Verifying the Identity of the Claimant

The caller must provide oral verification satisfactory to the call agent or claims processor that the caller is the surviving spouse.
Undertake appropriate development if there is any question as to the validity of the claimant’s status as the surviving spouse.  This development can include
  • any legal documents that would establish the relationship, such as
    • marriage certificates, or
    • divorce decrees for prior marriages, or
  • requests to legal entities for such legal documents that are known to exist.

IV.iii.3.A.5.h.  Providing Notification to the Surviving Spouse on How to Return the Veteran’s Payments

When issuing the MOD payment, inform the surviving spouse that all payments issued in the Veteran’s name after the date of death must be returned.  Use the following language:
If you still have any uncashed U.S. Treasury checks made payable to the Veteran, they should be returned to Department of Treasury at the following address:
U.S. Department of Treasury
Fiscal Service
P.O. Box 51316
Philadelphia, PA 19115-6316
Please be aware, only uncashed US Treasury Checks should be returned to the address above. Any personal checks or money orders sent to this address will result in lost or missing checks, or a delay in applying funds to the Veteran’s account.
If the Veteran received payments by Direct Deposit to a checking or savings account after the date of death, you may request the Veteran’s financial institution return the funds to VA using an R15 return code.
If you wish to return funds directly to VA using a personal check or
money order, send them to VA’s Debt Management Center at the following address:
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Debt Management Center
P.O. Box 11930
St. Paul, MN 55111
Please include the Veteran’s name and VA Claim Number found at the top of this letter with the personal check or money order for identification purposes.
If payments issued after the date of death are not returned, you will receive notification from VA’s Debt Management Center of the amount you owe VA.

IV.iii.3.A.5.i.  Examples of Payment Under 38 CFR 3.20(c)

Example 1:  A surviving spouse’s entitlement to survivors benefits has been established.  The claim for benefits was received more than one year after the Veteran’s death.
Result:  The surviving spouse is eligible for a benefit for the MOD in an amount equal to the Veteran’s rate of payment under 38 CFR 3.20(c).
Example 2:  The surviving spouse’s entitlement to survivors benefits has been denied.
Result:  The surviving spouse is eligible for the Veteran’s benefit for the MOD under 38 CFR 3.20(c)(1).

6.  Application of 38 CFR 3.107 on Awards to Surviving Spouses or Children


Introduction


Change Date

November 20, 2015

IV.iii.3.A.6.a.  When 38 CFR 3.107 Does Not Apply

38 CFR 3.107 does not apply if a
  • surviving spouse files a claim for Survivors Pension which does not include a child in custody, or
  • child in the custody of the surviving spouse files a claim for Survivors Pension without a claim from the surviving spouse.

IV.iii.3.A.6.b.  Definition:  Family Unit

For VA purposes, a family unit consists of all members of a family, including the spouse and children, without regard to whether or not they can be established as dependents.

IV.iii.3.A.6.c.  VA Treatment of a Family Unit

VA treats all members of the family unit as one entity for entitlement purposes and considers all income from any source for all members of the group in making a determination of entitlement to income-based benefits.

IV.iii.3.A.6.d.  When Not to Delay Award Action

Do not delay award action on a claim filed by
  • a surviving spouse within one year following the date of the Veteran’s death, even if it is shown that a child (not included in the claim of record) exists for whom a claim has not been filed
  • a child, even if the surviving spouse has not filed a claim, or
  • a child, or for a child out of the legal custody of the surviving spouse pending receipt of claims from the surviving spouse or children.

IV.iii.3.A.6.e.  Locating Additional Dependents

Make any necessary attempts to locate additional dependents in order to furnish them with an application form.
Inform the claimant that the income, net worth, and dependency evidence for the other potential beneficiary(ies) must be of record prior to further action on the claim.

IV.iii.3.A.6.f.  Determining Rates Payable

Any awards to persons who have filed a claim are at the rates payable as though all dependents had filed a claim until the expiration of the period within which a retroactive share may be awarded to the additional dependent(s).

IV.iii.3.A.6.g.  Determining How to Award the Apportioned Share

Use the table below to determine how to award the apportioned share.
If …
Then …
a surviving spouse has filed a claim
withhold the apportioned shares for the child or children from the surviving spouse’s award.
a surviving spouse has not filed a claim
award the apportioned share to a child for whom a claim is filed pending the timely receipt of a claim from the surviving spouse.
  • there is no surviving spouse, and
  • not all the children have filed a claim
pay the appropriate share to the children who have filed based on the total number of potentially entitled children.

IV.iii.3.A.6.h.  Considering Retroactive Adjustments

Retroactive adjustments to running awards may be necessary
  • when claims from additional dependents are not received by the expiration of the period allowed, and
  • due to the
    • death or marriage of an additional dependent, or
    • election of another benefit by a child, before filing a claim and establishing entitlement.

IV.iii.3.A.6.i.  Controlling for Retroactive Adjustments

Maintain an appropriate control for retroactive adjustments.
If no claim has been filed by the additional dependent(s) by the expiration of the period allowed, amend the running award(s) to authorize the full rate from the original effective date of the award.

7.  Application of 38 CFR 3.107 on Awards to Parents


Introduction

This topic contains information on the application of 38 CFR 3.107 on awards to parents, including

Change Date

July 12, 2015

IV.iii.3.A.7.a.  Rights of Non-Claiming Parent in DIC Cases

In DIC cases, under 38 CFR 3.251(a)(5), if there are two parents living and only one parent has filed a claim, the mere continued existence of the other parent affects the rate payable to the claimant.
The other parent’s potential right continues until
  • death, or
  • receipt of evidence of a legal bar to entitlement, other than excessive income.

IV.iii.3.A.7.b.  Rates of DIC Payable to Claiming Parent

The claiming parent is allowed DIC at the rate payable as if there were only one surviving parent, if it is determined that the non-claiming parent no longer has entitlement to DIC because
  • of abandonment of the Veteran per M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 5.J, or
  • another person, now deceased, was last in loco parentis (stood as the Veteran’s parent).

8.  Application of 38 CFR 3.650 When Additional Dependents File a Claim


Introduction

This topic contains information on the application of 38 CFR 3.650 when additional dependents file a claim, including

Change Date

July 12, 2015

IV.iii.3.A.8.a.  Adjustment of Running Awards

Follow the due process procedures of M21-1, Part I, 2.B before reducing any running award if
  • benefits were not withheld, and
  • a claim is received from another member of the same class who apparently is entitled to share in the same benefit (pending development).
Reduce any running awards, effective as of the date of last payment, at the expiration of the control period.
Important:  Do not use these rules in pension cases, since there is no withholding for additional claimants.
Reference:  For more information on the rules used to determine the effective date of entitlement for additional claimants and for the adjustment of any running award from which a share should have been withheld under 38 CFR 3.107, see 38 CFR 3.650.

IV.iii.3.A.8.b.  Action to Take in Response to Protest From the Payee

If a protest is received from a payee whose award is reduced, follow the contested claims procedure in M21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, 6.

IV.iii.3.A.8.c.  Action to Take if the Additional Dependent Is Not Entitled

Restore or release the full rate payable to entitled persons from the date of reduction or entitlement if it is determined that the additional dependent is not entitled.

IV.iii.3.A.8.d.  Action to Take if the Additional Dependent Is Entitled

If an additional dependent establishes entitlement
  • award the additional dependent’s full share effective the date of entitlement, and
  • adjust any running awards.
Use the table below to adjust running awards.
If the additional dependent is entitled …
Then reduce the running awards from the …
from a date before the date VA received his/her claim
first day of the month following the date of entitlement.
Note:  Any resulting overpayment due to failure to withhold benefits is subject to recovery or waiver of recovery.
only from the date VA received his/her claim
first day of the month following the later of the following dates:
  • the date of the claim, or
  • the date of the last payment.
before October 1, 1982
later of the following dates:
  • the effective date of entitlement
  • the date of the claim, or
  • the date in the LAST PAID DATE field on the AWARD INFORMATION tab in Share.

IV.iii.3.A.8.e.  Failure to Reduce an Award When Entitlement of an Additional Dependent Is Established

Consider VA’s failure to reduce a running award, when entitlement of an additional dependent has been established, the result of administrative error.
To rectify the error
3-22-19_Key-Changes_M21-1IV_iii_3_SecA.docx May 21, 2019 65 KB
Transmittal-Sheet-07_01_08.doc May 21, 2019 44 KB
Transmittal-Sheet-12_13_05.doc May 21, 2019 62 KB
Historical_M21-1IV_iii_3_SecB_07-12-2015.doc May 21, 2019 133 KB
11-20-15_Key-Changes_M21-1MRIV_iii_3_SecA.docx May 21, 2019 84 KB
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