The Forgotten Benefit
Laura Martinez, USVCP Staff Writer
Original Publication Date: March 17, 2016
Republished: March 14, 2018
It can be a major undertaking to sift through all the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits for the savviest of experts. One seemingly forgotten benefit is the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program under Chapter 35.
Under this seldom used education program, family members of troops killed in action or those with 100% service-connected disabilities are able to obtain up to 45 months of education benefits in the form of a monthly stipend.
The DEA program provides education and training compensation to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or of veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
The amount allocated to a dependent can be up to a maximum of $1,021.00 a month for full-time students per rates as determined in October 2015.
The money from this program is intended to be used as supplemental income for dependents seeking degrees, certificate programs, apprenticeships, or on-the-job training.
The DEA program is separate from the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Dependents of service members who died in the line of duty or served adequate time to be able to transfer their G.I. Bill benefits can also be eligible for the DEA program, but only for up to 81 months of total full-time benefits. However, both programs may not be used concurrently.
Dependent children planning to apply for this benefit must fall between the ages of 18 and 26. As a dependent child, he/she will have up to age 26 to use the benefits. Spouses must use it within 10 years from the date VA finds one eligible or from the date of death of the Veteran.
The bill appears to be flexible in that children of fallen or disabled service members can be married, the money can be used for colleges or job training programs, and there are rates that vary and can apply to part-time or full-time schooling — unlike with the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
In order to apply, dependents must complete VA Form 22-5490 and submit it to the VA for consideration.